Commentary

Hartley on target from long range

Saints kicker is first to nail 3 field goals of longer than 40 yards in a Super Bowl

Updated: February 8, 2010, 1:26 AM ET
By Calvin Watkins | ESPNDallas.com

MIAMI -- The kid from Southlake, Texas, did pretty good Sunday night.

Garrett Hartley didn't make another game-winning kick. He was a little better, setting a Super Bowl record with three field goals of 40 or more yards, helping the New Orleans Saints defeat the Indianapolis Colts, 31-17.

The 23-year-old Hartley, the youngest man in this game, performed with a calmness like he did on Jan. 24, when he made a 40-yarder in overtime to beat the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC Championship Game and send the Saints to the Super Bowl.

[+] EnlargeGarrett Hartley
AP Photo/Paul SancyaSaints kicker Garrett Hartley connects on a 47-yard field goal, his record third of longer than 40 yards in the Super Bowl.

In the postseason, Hartley went 5-for-5, including his record-setting Sunday effort.

When told he set a Super Bowl record, Hartley said, "What record? Apparently this is news to me. That's my job every time I'm out on the field, whether it's 40 yards or 25 yarders, it's my job to put points up there and help my team win."

According to ESPN Stats & Information, Hartley is also the first kicker in the Super Bowl era to make more than one field goal of 40-plus yards in the postseason after not making any during the regular season.

Hartley attempted only one kick from 40 or more yards during the regular season, and that was a 58-yard miss.

The opportunities from long range were limited because Hartley wasn't with the team at the start. He was suspended the first four games of the season for failing a drug test. He said he took a drug to stay awake during a drive from Dallas to New Orleans for an offseason workout, and the team welcomed him back after the suspension.

Hartley said he made a mistake and apologized to several people. After the suspension, Hartley was inactive for seven more weeks while the team relied on John Carney.

Hartley made his debut Dec. 6 against Washington and made 4 of 5 field goal attempts in an overtime victory.

The good stretch continued for Hartley throughout the postseason.

"I don't know if it's really sunk in yet," he said. "It's so surreal, and it's such a storybook ending."

Hartley, who had 14 tickets for family and friends at the game, said he felt good in warm-ups.

In the Saints' first Super Bowl appearance, Hartley gave them their first points with a 46-yarder with 9:34 to play in the second quarter. Then he ended the first half with a 44-yard field goal to bring the Saints within four at 10-6.

The second half started with former SMU punter Thomas Morstead converting an onside kick that turned the momentum around for New Orleans. The Saints would take the lead (13-10), setting the stage for a wild finish in the final six minutes of the game.

Hartley's final field goal of the night was a 47-yarder, a career long that cut the Colts' lead to 17-16.

After that, Hartley took a seat and watched the offense take over. But you can't deny his contributions to this victory.

"He was huge," Saints wide receiver Marques Colston said. "Any time you can get points against a team like this, and he made some points for us, those are big ones. That's how he's been all year for us. Since he got here, he's been calm, cool and collected and confident in his ability."

It's also special to see a local kid win a Super Bowl ring.

Hartley and Saints third-string quarterback Chase Daniel became the first former Southlake Caroll High School players to get Super Bowl rings.

"For me and Chase Daniel, it's something I will be so proud of," Hartley said. "I will go back to my high school and talk to all the future Dragons and tell them everything they can accomplish is out there."

Calvin Watkins covers the Cowboys for ESPN Dallas. You can follow him on Twitter or leave a question for his weekly mailbag.

Calvin Watkins joined ESPNDallas.com in September 2009. He's covered the Cowboys since 2006 and also has covered colleges, boxing and high school sports.

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