Badgley gives the Bengals a long-distance boot

CARSON, CA-This is the time of year in the National Football League where special teams loom large, especially in the kicking game. Every point counts. The Los Angeles Chargers know that all too well, which explains the big deal being made the last two seasons about the team solidifying the placekicker position.

In 2017, Anthony Lynn’s first season as head coach for the Chargers, it was placekicker-by-committee. A couple of early season losses hinged on the failure of the kicking game to come through, therefore costing the Chargers an opportunity to get in on the postseason.

This year is a little bit different with the Chargers finally looking like they have settled on a placekicker that will win them ballgames instead of losing them. Is placekicker Michael Badgley the answer to the team’s placekicking woes? It is starting to look like it.  

Mike Badgley (4) of the Los Angeles Chargers goes for three points during their game against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday, December 9, 2018, at the StubHub Center in Carson, California. JAVIER ROJAS/News4usonline

“When I get down inside the 50 and the 40, I’m not thinking about fourth downs and going for it as much,” Lynn said. “It’s good to have a kicker that has leg strength.”

Since being promoted from the practice squad and officially over the team’s placekicking duties from Caleb Sturgis in early November, Badgley has been a model of consistency for the Chargers. Of the 15 field goals he has attempted thus far, Badgley has connected on 14 of those kicks, good for 93 percent. He’s been a shade better on extra point attempts, hitting on 20 of the 21 kicks he’s tried, a 95 percent efficiency rating.

“It’s just one of those things where you’re going one kick at a time,” Badgley said about his kicking performance the past several weeks. “Practice or game, you’re just going play-by-play.”

Badgley has shown the last two weeks why he is the right manat the right time for the Chargers. During the Chargers’ 26-21 win against the Cincinnati at ROKIT Field at StubHub Center, Badgley stamped his name in team annals by booting a 59-yard field goal, the longest in franchise history. Badgley went 4-for-4 on field goals against Cincinnati, including making his long-distance shot at the end of the first half.    

“We were trying to get it as close as we could with ten seconds and one timeout, but we did a good job of executing that drive getting the ball out of bounds,” Lynn said. “[QB Philip] Phil [Rivers] threw nice balls. I think [WR] Keenan [Allen] caught a couple. It got us a little closer, but we got as close as we could, and I was going to give Mike a chance. If it was 60 or closer, Mike was going to kick it.”

Mike Badgley (4) of the Los Angeles Chargers goes for a three point during their game against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday, December 9, 2018, at the StubHub Center in Carson, California. LA Chargers defeat Cincinnati Bengals, 26-21. JAVIER ROJAS/News4usonline

During the Chargers’ improbable 33-30 come-from-behind win against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Dec. 2 at Heinz Field, Badgley had to go through several attempts before he delivered a walk-off 29-yard field goal to win the game for Los Angeles. It’s been quite a ride for the University of Miami rookie who was signed to the Chargers practice squad back in October.    

Quarterback Philip Rivers, who produced another solid outing (19 of 29 for 220 yards, 1 TD) is glad certainly glad that Badgley kicks for the Chargers.

“It’s awesome,” Rivers said. “It gives you confidence that you have in him, and I think just like it’s one game at a time, it’s one kick at a time and everything is new. We started to run the ball there, and then we had the timeout, let’s just see if something pops. [WR]Travis [Benjamin] gets the shallow, gets out of bounds, and then [WR] Keenan[Allen] makes a catch on the boundary, and then an up chance for a jump ball onthe end zone then we jumped off sides, then you have a chance. That’s a bigthree points that really the odds of scoring at all — not that percentagesmatter, you’ve seen some crazy plays from Miami and some things — but the oddsof getting anything there are slim to none, so finding a way to get three isbig going into the half.”

In converting his 59-yard field goal at the end of the secondquarter, Badgley erased Nate Kaeding’s franchise mark of 57 yards that was established back in 2008.  

“It’s cool,” said Badgley. “I was blessed with an opportunity to get a chance and come in here. My teammates and the organization welcomed me. It’s awesome to be able to go out there and do something like that.”

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