This season is a kick for Lawrence Tynes
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That's the conundrum. The rub. The kicker.
The kicker's kicker.
It's called "settling" for a field goal for a reason. The Giants would much rather end their possessions with a touchdown and send Tynes onto the field for an extra point, not the anticlimactic field goals they've been relying on for the last month or so. But to get to the records, Tynes will need to keep kicking field goals.
Football players talk about playing one game at a time, but Tynes won't be able to reach the record book one point at a time. He'll need threes. He'll need the Giants to drive to within scoring range and then falter so he has to trot in and kick for the better-than-nothing trio of points.
Kickers rarely talk about coming up short, but when talk turns to the choice between a place atop the archives and another chance at the playoffs, Tynes said he'd just as soon forgo the personal glory.
"If it helps us get to where we need to go, then I guess I'll feel good about them," Tynes said of his staggering stats through the first 10 games of the season. "And if not, then they're just numbers. If they help us get to the playoffs and do some things in the playoffs, I'll feel good about them . . . I'm more into the team goals, rings and things and winning conferences and getting into the playoffs."
There's a slim chance for both. Tynes has 109 points, which led the NFL heading into Week 11, the Giants' bye week (Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski has a league-leading 111 as of Sunday, having scored seven against the Jets on Thursday). That puts Tynes on pace for 174 this season, a total that would bypass the NFL single-season record for points by a player with no touchdowns, 166, set last season by 49ers kicker David Akers. Tynes' 28 field goals put him on pace to finish the season with 45, which would break the NFL record of 44 set by Akers a year ago.
Tynes would rather be kicking extra points. But he doesn't dismiss his accomplishments. The Giants may be struggling to score touchdowns in the red zone this season -- 18 in 41 trips, ranked 20th in the league -- but they have scored at least three points on all but two of those 41 chances. That 95.1 percent success rate is third-best in the league.
"That's obviously the goal," Tynes said of the desire for touchdowns, "but I think there'd be more complaints around here if we weren't getting threes. I don't mind going out there and doing my job . . . We do have to score more touchdowns, I think, going down the stretch. But if we have to win 3-0, I think we'll be fine with that. I'm not mad that I'm doing my job."
Tyne said he had a sense of a big season when he left training camp having missed only one field-goal attempt during team drills. One reason for his success, he said, is a second year with the same group of players around him.
Zak DeOssie is the long-snapper and Steve Weatherford is the holder. It's the first time in Tynes' Giants career that he's had the same battery in consecutive seasons. It also helps that they're all specialists, Tynes said, and not a backup quarterback (as former holder Sage Rosenfels was) or a lineman (as one-time snapper Jay Alford was). That created some conflicts and limitations in practice schedules.
"Having those guys at my disposal to work when I'm ready and want to do something [is beneficial]," Tynes said. "Just to have those guys with me every day, just talking, makes the whole thing better. They're right there on my hip."
They've also developed close personal relationships, although they have varying personalities. Tynes is calm and businesslike and Weatherford is, well, not. Weatherford works hard -- he'll take 100 or so snaps a day to work on holding -- but he's also much louder than Tynes, on and off the field. Even when they come on for a field goal, Tynes said, Weatherford is "always blabbering about something."
"He's fun to go out there with," Tynes said. "He's always got something to say. 'This is your favorite hash!' He keeps everything kind of cool. 'This is your spot, 9!' or 'This is your favorite hash!' It could be on the left hash one minute and then the next one [on the right] and it's still my favorite hash. It changes throughout the game."
Maybe Weatherford is right. Left hash or right, Tynes has been belting field goals true. He's missed only three this year, one of which was blocked. The other two were from more than 51 yards. He's also 25-for-25 on extra points and has connected on 182 straight, a Giants record.
Now he's closing in on other scoring records, including LaDainian Tomlinson's single-season mark of 186 points set in 2006. That likely will mean a lot more field goals than extra points, though.
Of course, one scenario would satisfy both Tynes' personal and team desires.
A game-winning field goal in Week 17 that sets the record and also sends the Giants into the playoffs?
"It's crazy," Tynes said of his season. "Who knows where it's going to end up? We'll see."
That from a guy who'd rather kick the seventh point than settle for three.