Seattle relishing consistency of kicker Steven Hauschka
RENTON, Wash. (AP) Steven Hauschka remembers vividly the last time he saw this much turnover and struggles among kickers early in the season.
The reason the memory sticks out so much for the Seattle Seahawks kicker is because he was in the middle of those changes back in 2009, before Hauschka established himself.
”The 2009 season there were a bunch of jobs up for grabs then. A lot of guys were struggling. I was one of the guys struggling,” Hauschka recalled. ”Sometimes those times when people struggle, those guys come back from that and improve and it’s a big defining moment in their career.”
While there’s been significant turnover in the kicking ranks early in the 2015 season, Seattle is relishing the stability and consistency of Hauschka.
Hauschka is 10 of 10 on field goals, including hitting a pair of 50-yarders in last Monday’s 13-10 win over Detroit. Hauschka became the first Seattle kicker to make two 50-yard kicks in the same game since Josh Brown in 2007.
Hauschka is tied for the NFL lead in made field goals and so far has been unaffected by the changes in extra points.
”I don’t know. I just like to swing away at those,” Hauschka said of his success at longer kicks. ”There are a lot of guys that are good at that. You look at the guys in this league good at those, they’re the ones that swing confidently. You can tell on film.”
Back in 2009, Hauschka was struggling to find a spot, lasting nine games with the Ravens before getting waived. After bouncing around practice squads, Hauschka kicked four games at the end of the 2010 season in Denver, then found a home in Seattle at the start of the 2011 season.
”Once you have that moment of just failure, of letdown, you’ve already experienced that. It can’t get much worse than that, so you lose that fear aspect of it and you swing confidently and you do what you need to do to make kicks in this league,” Hauschka said.
Since arriving in Seattle, Hauschka has made nearly 89 percent of his attempts. His top season was 2013 when Seattle won the Super Bowl and Hauschka was 33 of 35 during the regular season; his only two misses were a blocked kick and a 24-yard attempt that hit an upright.
Where Hauschka has been solid is the longer kicks. Hauschka is 8 of 10 on field goals of 50 or more yards the past three seasons. While it didn’t count for much other than helping to avoid overtime in a preseason game, Hauschka hit a 60-yarder in an exhibition victory at San Diego in August.
Hauschka said he practices more kicks around the 50-yard mark than shorter attempts.
”That’s when I swing freely because there is nothing to hold back on and that’s when I’m at my best,” he said. ”You’re not going to make it from 50 yards if you guide it in there. You have to swing away.”
Hauschka last missed an extra point in 2012 but said the change is significant because it’s one more kick they have to think about.
”It just requires more focus. Instead of having 30 kicks a year you have to be focused for, now you have 60 or 70 if you include the extra points,” Hauschka said. ”You have to be ready for those.”
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