There weren't many brights spots to Buffalo's Sunday night tilt with the Patriots, but for kicker Rian Lindell his 52-yard kick was his 12th straight field goal attempt to set a career-high for consecutive field goals made.
Lindell finally moved past the dreaded number 11.
"I've had 11 in a row at least three times in my career, maybe four," said Lindell. "So all the other things about the game aside and being selfish for a minute it was pretty nice."
Buffalo's kicker had a streak of 11 consecutive made field goals over a seven game span in the 2004 season. He also had a streak of 10 straight at the end of that year. Then from the end of the 2005 season through the first four games of the 2006 campaign, Lindell again had a streak of 11 straight before this one in 2007.
Lindell's current streak began against Baltimore where he was instrumental in providing the points necessary for victory with four field goals in the 19-14 win. He also had a four field goal day two weeks later against Cincinnati.
Prior to the New England game however, Lindell did not have an attempt over 41 yards on the current streak. So it was only fitting that the Bills kicker was forced to attempt a long one, in cold weather when the ball doesn't travel as far.
"I was down at the net and thought they weren't going to kick it," said Lindell.
Lindell had determined that 53 yards was the limit at the scoreboard end of the field Sunday night, so a 52-yard attempt was far from a given.
"It was a cold ball, hard and slick and he probably hit it as good as anybody could have hit it," said holder Brian Moorman. "It didn't want to go anywhere, but it went 52 yards."
"Thankfully I hit it pretty well," said Lindell. "That was as good as I could hit one."
But when they saw the ball carom back onto the field both Lindell and Moorman thought the kick was no good.
"We couldn't tell," said Moorman. "When it bounced off we thought it hit the crossbar and bounced out. We didn't know it hit the camera until they called it good."
Breaking his personal best was secondary to the outcome of the game, but having reached 11 in a row three times he was glad to get over the hump.
"And to get a 50 made it even better," he said.
For Lindell's teammates the kicker's consistency is something that is appreciated.
"He's having another great year," said Moorman. "It hasn't been any different from any other year. He's hitting the ball great, hitting it clean. I'm happy for him."
"We depend on him and he obviously is a very dependable guy," said head coach Dick Jauron. "To hit a 52-yarder… that's not a chip shot. He really hit the ball well. We have a lot of confidence in him."
Lindell's first season in Buffalo was particularly difficult. Suffering from a torn labrum muscle in his shoulder, his mechanics were all out of sorts. As a result his accuracy, particularly from long distance suffered as he went 3-9 from 40-yards plus in 2003.
Since then he has been supremely accurate with an 86.7-percent success rate (91-105) since 2004, including an astounding 73.5-percent success rate from 40-yards plus, including 6-7 from 50-yards and beyond.
"I don't even remember that first year, how I approached things and what my practice plan was," said Lindell. "It was like it was part of my college years. Overall I think my approach is so much better now. Mentally I feel a lot older, and physically I feel a lot younger."
"Rian is really a solid guy on the football team and really fits in well and is a professional with his approach," said Jauron. "Kicking in Buffalo, in our stadium, that's a real achievement."
Lindell, who is the most accurate kicker in team history, still has to hit six more in a row to surpass the team's consecutive field goal leader, Steve Christie, who had 17 straight in the 1994 season.
But over the last four seasons only Baltimore's Matt Stover and Cincinnati's Shayne Graham have a higher field goal percentage, with 80 attempts or more, than Lindell. And no one has been better than Lindell from 50-yards plus over that span.
"People don't give him the credit that he's due," said Moorman. "He's kicking in Buffalo in bad and cold conditions. He's one of the elite kickers in the league, but no one gives him that credit in Buffalo or around the league. And I'd like to see that. If he stays on this roll he deserves some kind of recognition."
Lindell, however is not about the accolades. He's about routine and sticking to an approach that works very well for him. But for a moment he was glad to push his career-long streak to an even dozen.
"I guess if you play long enough you certainly feel good about some of the things you're able to accomplish," he said.