Randy Bullock’s game-ending missed field goal in the Cincinnati Bengals' three-point loss to the L.A. Chargers could have derailed his season after one week.
The Bengals signed former Browns kicker Austin Seibert to the roster two days later as insurance after Bullock cramped up planting his left leg for that attempt, but Bullock bounced back and has been perfect since then.
Going up against a tough Baltimore Ravens team featuring an explosive offense, the Bengals will need that steadiness from Bullock on Sunday.
“More than anything that’s your job,” Bullock said when asked if his missed field goal served as motivation for his current success streak. “You have to be able to handle adversity in this league regardless of what position you are. You have to respond, otherwise you’re not going to be around long. I feel like I’ve really taken that to heart and learned that over the nine years of my career so that’s why I’m still playing.”
Bullock has made nine consecutive field goals in the last three games and ranks tied for first in the NFL with 12 field goals and with 45 points through the first four weeks of the 2020 season.
The nine-year veteran also ranks ninth in field goal percentage at 92.3 percent and is one of 16 kickers who have not missed an extra point this season. On Sunday, he surpassed Shayne Graham as the Bengals' all-time leader in field goal accuracy (81 of 93 for 87.1 percent). Graham made 177 of 204 attempts (86.8 percent).
“It’s a really special accomplishment but the kicking position is, ‘What have you done for me lately?’” Bullock said. “At the end of the day the goal is not to just get there. The goal is to hold on to it and continue playing at a high level. The statistic side of it takes care of itself. You just focus on doing your job and that’s what matters to help your team win.”
Bullock, who is also third in the league in touchbacks, will be going up against a Baltimore kicker who can seemingly make field goals from anywhere. Justin Tucker is 39 of 55 on attempts longer than 50 yards in his nine years and has made 91 percent of his field goals throughout his career.
Although it’s not their first meeting, Bullock said he looks forward to going up against a guy like Tucker.
“Absolutely, it’s always fun playing against some of the top in the league when you look at their personnel, not only at my position, but across the board,” Bullock said. “It’s a head-to-head individual battle and that’s what we try to do as far as field position.”
One of Bullock’s most memorable matchups against Tucker actually came in college during the last rivalry meeting between Texas A&M and Texas in 2011 when both were seniors. Bullock went 2 for 2 on field goals with a 49-yarder but Tucker lifted Texas to a 27-25 victory with a last-second field goal.
Bullock’s performance sealed the Lou Groza Award to make him college football’s top kicker but he would have rather had the last kick to beat Texas.
“That was frustrating,” Bullock said. “That game actually put me on the map to kind of clinch the Lou Groza Award. It was kind of a bittersweet deal, because it was like an individual game where I had done quite well and it was such a disappointing way to end the A&M-Texas rivalry as well. That still stings for Aggies all over the world.”
The fact he’s facing Tucker – and his big leg – doesn’t change the way he approaches this game, though. Bullock said he approaches every game the same way, regardless of the opponent.
The same goes for his routine, including how he hydrates and warms up, even after dealing with an unexpected injury to his calves in the season opener. Bullock said the right calf cramped up as he was swinging through on the field goal attempt that would have sent the game to overtime. The kick went wide right.
“To be honest, I have never had an issue with hydration,” Bullock said. “I’ve always taken my preparation serious from that standpoint. At that point it’s not losing faith in your routine and going back to the drawing board trying to recreate anything. It’s having faith in what you do, trust the process and doing your job at a high level.”
Bengals at Ravens, 1 p.m., CBS, 700, 1530, 102.7, 104.7