Chip's Shots Go a Long Way
Redskins kicker Chip Lohmiller woke up on Monday, Sept. 9, in a hotel near Dallas, and he did what he always does on game day: He looked outside to see if the trees or hotel flags were blowing. The flags were limp, and it was hot and muggy. It'll be a perfect night for kicking, he thought.
So perfect, it turned out, that in Washington's 33-31 victory over the Cowboys that night, Lohmiller had the best kicking game in the 72-year history of the NFL. He converted four of four field goal attempts—from 53, 52, 45 and 46 yards—and three of three extra points. Also, four of his eight kickoffs were touchbacks.
On 21 other occasions in NFL history, kickers have made two field goals of at least 50 yards in one game, but in none of those games did the kicker make two additional field goals of at least 40 yards.
A magical 12 hours began for Lohmiller at 4 p.m. CDT, when he left his hotel for Texas Stadium. "I went out on the field early for a few kicks with Jeff Parsons, one of our equipment guys," Lohmiller says. "I kicked 10 or 12, before the band chased us off the field, and I was thinking how well the ball was carrying. I said to myself, This is going to be a cakewalk. I hope I get some chances tonight."
In warmups Lohmiller kicked his usual 75 or 80 balls from different spots on the field. During the game Lohmiller followed the same routine before each field goal: He paced off the distance he wanted to be from where the ball would be placed; visualized a perfect kick sailing through the uprights; looked at the holder, Jeff Rutledge, who said "nice and easy"; stared at the spot of placement; awaited the snap from center John Brandes; and drilled his right foot into the ball.
The first kick, from 53 yards in the second quarter, looked as if it would have been good from 60. From there it was a cakewalk. On the kickoff following his fourth field goal, which put the Skins ahead 33-24 with 5:39 to play, Lohmiller heard the tired voice of a teammate pleading, "Everybody's dying! Kick this one out!" Lohmiller obliged, getting his fourth touchback.
Lohmiller was too excited to sleep on the plane to Dulles Airport. When he picked up his car and headed home at 5 a.m. EDT, he still felt as if he were in a dream. "I congratulated myself," he says. "It was a career day. It may never happen again."