TAMPA, Fla. -- It’s a kicker's dream to hit a game-winning field goal in their home town.
The only part of Jay Feely's 27-yard field goal to give the Arizona Cardinals a 13-10 victory against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers that wasn’t out of a story book was that the kick didn’t happen as time expired. He lined up with 1 minute, 29 seconds left in a game that was as ugly as it was humid.
So it was fitting for the Tampa native who didn’t break a sweat in the first half to score the majority of the Cards’ points Sunday at Raymond James Stadium, including the final three.
“It was pretty cool,” said Feely, who finished with seven point in total.
Feely had a kicker’s hunch all week that the game would come down to his foot. That thought just lingered as he bounced around the Tampa area, visiting friends and family.
He visited Jesuit High School, his alma mater, where his father, Thomas, coaches. Then he spoke to the football team at Berkeley Prep, where his former coach, Dominick Ciao, coaches. And finally, on Friday, he attended the Plant High School football game because its coach, Robert Weiner, was Feely’s best man.
“Got to see everybody here in Tampa,” Feely said. “Had dinner with my family and my brothers and my dad and mom. It was pretty special to cap it with a game winner.”
Feely, who had played at Raymond James a few times before Sunday, had never attempted such a crucial kick in that stadium before. But there weren’t any extra nerves nagging at him when he lined up for the 27-yarder, which turned into the 10th game-winning kick of his career. It was short and easy, and cleared the goal posts as such. But he nailed a 42-yard field goal with 11:16 left in the fourth that put the Cardinals on the board for the first time Sunday, and that kick came with a little added weight.
“Obviously, that meant a lot to give us the opportunity [to kick the game winner]. I wasn’t very nervous at all,” Feely said. “It was little bit different in the second half but we found a way to win and that’s what good teams. When they don’t play well, somebody makes a play and finds a way to win. [Going home] 2-2 is a lot different than 1-3.”