Confidence for kickers is a fickle thing but of the utmost importance and when it is shaken sometimes it can be difficult to get back. Miami Dolphins rookie kicker
The fifth-round draft pick out of the University of Florida had been as confident as they come throughout training camp when he beat out veteran Pro Bowler Dan Carpenter for the kicking job and through the first four games when he was a perfect 10-for-10 on field goals. But a miss at home against Baltimore started a tough streak of five misses in six attempts that continued on his first attempt Thursday night from 34 yards against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Fortunately for the Dolphins, Sturgis found his mojo again at the end of the first half with a 36-yard field goal to give his team a 10-3 lead at the half and was called upon with the game on the line in the fourth quarter and Miami needing a field goal to tie the game and send it into overtime. Knowing all eyes in Sun Life Stadium and around the country on NFL Network were on him, Sturgis didn’t blink and split the uprights from 44 yards away with just 11 seconds remaining on the clock. His teammates used that momentum to win the game, 22-20, on a sack for a safety by
“Just like we talked about with the rest of the team, he showed some resiliency,” said Head Coach Joe Philbin, who has never wavered in his support of his young kicker. “He showed the character of the individual that he is. I just watched again (Friday) morning on tape. It had all the qualities of a good kick; good fundamentals, the plant, the timing and the operation were all there. It was a big kick.”
Sturgis made plenty of big kicks for the Gators in college and he had already delivered earlier in the season with a critical 54-yarder at the end of the first half that gave his team momentum by tying the game at 17-17. He duplicated the effort a week later at home against the Atlanta Falcons with a 46-yard field also as time expired at the end of the second quarter to cut a 13-7 deficit to three points en route to a 27-23 Dolphins victory.
So at the midway point of the season, Sturgis is 13-of-18 on his field goal attempts, a perfect 19-of-19 on extra points and has boomed 19 touchbacks on kickoffs while having 18 returned. Next Monday night, he’ll go back on the road with his teammates to face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers knowing he is 6-of-8 on field goals away from Sun Life Stadium. If road crowds don’t rattle him then nothing will, and this St. Augustine native hopes to restore that intimidation factor.