Dolphins' Carpenter not dwelling on past
DAVIE, Fla. — Dan Carpenter stood in front of his locker the other day wearing a hat that read "Still Perfect."
That referred to the 1972 Miami Dolphins, not the 2012 Dolphins kicker.
Carpenter hardly was perfect in a 23-20 loss last Sunday against the New York Jets. He missed a 47-yard field goal with 10:48 left in regulation that proved pivotal. Then he shanked a 48-yarder in overtime that would have given Miami the win.
In the old days, kicks of that length were considered difficult. Consider the 1972 Dolphins, en route to an undefeated season, had one of the NFL's best kickers in Garo Yepremian. And Yepremian that season was 24-of-37 on field goals (64.9 percent), including 4-of-11 (44.4 percent) between 40 and 49 yards
Those days are long gone. Carpenter last season went 29-of-34 (85.3 percent), including 11-of-12 (91.7 percent) between 40 and 49.
So the kicks he missed against the Jets were chip shots, right? Carpenter wouldn't disagree.
"I think it's just a credit to what kickers as a group have done," Carpenter said of how the game has changed. "We're expected to be good from 50 and in, flat out. That's what I expect, too.
"When they say it should have been a 42-yarder rather than a 48-yarder (that the Dolphins should have gotten Carpenter closer in overtime), to me that's a load of B.S. It doesn't matter to me. If they put me out there and it's 55, they believe I can make it. I believe I can make it. I should make it. It's as simple as that."
Carpenter, a fifth-year man, has made 81.2 percent of his career boots, which ranks 25th in NFL history. But he's just 20th among active kickers.
That's how good these specialists have become.
Kickers this season are on a record clip, having made 182-of-197 field goals for 92.4 percent. The NFL mark of 84.5 percent was set in 2008.
Of the NFL's 32 kickers, 15 have yet to miss this season. After going 2-of-4 Sunday, Carpenter is 3-of-5 overall, meaning he's accounted for 13.3 percent of the league's seasonal misses by himself.
"We're on to Arizona," Carpenter said about leaving the Jets game behind as the Dolphins prepare to play Sunday at Arizona. "There's nothing I can do about it. I can't go back and redo it or I would."
Carpenter, who made 84 percent or better of his field-goal attempts in all his previous seasons with the exception of a mediocre 73.2 percent campaign in 2010, said he hit his first miss well but the ball took off. He said he didn't get a good foot on the second one.
Carpenter has gotten support. Dolphins coach Joe Philbin has no worries about the misses affecting his kicker.
"I'm totally confident that he will come back and I'm pretty sure that we'll be in that same situation again," Philbin said. "I don't know when, but I'm pretty confident it will happen and he will come through for us."
Some players have gone out their way to encourage Carpenter. But for some, it's been business as usual.
"We go about our day in the same way," said defensive end Jared Odrick. "We don't emphasize patting Carpenter on the back. That's part of the job. It's a pressure-filled job, so we understand that. It's something that I'm sure he's going to come back and put them all through the uprights this week. He expects that himself."
Yes, Carpenter does. In fact, he wants to kick with the game on the line.
"I like it," Carpenter said. "When we have a chance to win the game and I'm out there, I'm thinking it's sewn up. That's how I'm going to go into it."
Carpenter might not be perfect. But he expects to be.
Chris Tomasson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @christomasson