Bills kicker Dan Carpenter had been successful forcing touchbacks on most of his kickoffs forcing four touchbacks on his first five kicks. The only one that had been returned up until the last one of the game was a harmless 15-yard return to the 16-yard line. Carpenter however, mis-hit the last kickoff after his 31-yard field goal put Buffalo ahead 23-21 with under 40 seconds remaining and it almost allowed Miami to steal the game back in the waning seconds.
Carpenter hit the ball too close to the middle of the field. The result was a returnable ball that only reached the two-yard line. Being close to the middle of the field it gave accomplished Dolphins return man Marcus Thigpen options.
“I put our team in a really tough spot,” said Carpenter. “The ball was flying really good that way all day and I didn’t hit it very well and put our team in a really tough spot. I was glad our defense could hold them.”
Thigpen chose to return the ball up the right side and found some daylight. Very quickly Carpenter was one-on-one with the return man near the right sideline (his left).
“Get him on the ground,” said Carpenter as to what he was thinking when he was lining up Thigpen. “When you’re kind of the last line of defense that’s your thought process. I was not happy with myself on the kickoff. I just wanted to make sure… I didn’t want the game to end that way so I wanted to do everything I could to get him down. It wasn’t enough, but I guess it was enough to slow him down for the rest of pursuit to come get him.”
Carpenter made a diving attempt at Thigpen laying his body out length-wise across as much of the field as possible, much like a goalkeeper in soccer.
His hand nicked Thigpen’s shoe top in mid-stride and tripped him up, but did not bring him to the ground.
“I didn’t tackle him,” said Carpenter. “Credit to (Marcus) Thiggy (Thigpen). When I hit him I thought for sure he was going down, but somehow he stayed up.”
The 44-yard return gave Miami a chance to reach the end zone on a few long throws with a drive start at their own 46. It also put a few more gray hairs on coach Marrone’s head.
“I thought I lost a couple of years of my life out there,” said Marrone. “I know that.”
Tannehill threw short on first down, but heaved two passes down the left sideline both incomplete and then a final last ditch effort down the right sideline that was batted down to end the game.
“I’m thankful our defense could hold them,” said Carpenter.
Tags: Dan Carpenter, Doug Marrone
Posted in Inside the Bills