Nugent struts passed the dismantled Dolphin CB
Mike Nugent smiled at the concept that his 54-yard field goal to tie the "game" at 24-all in the two-minute drill near the end of today's training camp practice somehow balanced the celestial books for his 23-yard miss hard off the left upright to end Saturday's Jets-Redskins game.
The make was nice, but it was part of a larger approach for the meticulous kicker from the Buckeye State.
"I know that if something like what happened to me happened to my teammates, they'd be out there working as hard as they can to make up, or maybe not make up but correct what happened the day before," Nugent said. "The camaraderie I feel on this team, everyone knew I was going to come out today and work hard to get it fixed."
The comradeliness on the Jets is a big reason that Nugent was able to get through this rough patch after he faded a 43-yard field goal wide right in the third quarter, then hit from 43, then missed with the game-tying try.
"I was disappointed in myself, to be honest," said No. 1, standing tall in front of a number of reporters after spending a lot of autograph time with fans after practice. "I enjoy watching the guys drive the ball all over the field. The drive at the end of the game gave us an opportunity to win it, or at least tie it, and I just did a bad job."
And he and holder/punter Ben Graham agreed that the miss coming in the preseason rather than in the regular season doesn't help the medicine go down any easier.
"But the coaches and these players are just unbelievable when something like that happens," he continued. "I think things have been going great from the team standpoint this training camp. Everyone's working hard and I really admire the camaraderie on this team. Then the way I kicked this weekend, you never want that to happen, and when and if it does happen, you feel you let your teammates down."
But, Nuge said, teammate after teammate told him to forget about it. And so, to some degree, did head coach Eric Mangini. After the 13-10 loss, the boss was "disappointed" the way the game ended and mentioned the "gimme" and "chip shot" nature of that final kick. But today Mangini was supportive of the man who's been his kicker all three of his seasons as Jets coach.
""Mike's just a conscientious guy. Nobody's going to be harder on Mike than Mike is," said Mangini, who talked with Nugent the day before. "That's because he's a perfectionist. He's always trying to improve his stroke, his mechanics. He doesn't miss very often from that distance. I told him we have to move forward. I don't anticipate that happening again in the future."
In fact, it was the shortest miss of Nugent's last eight seasons — four seasons as the Ohio State kicker and four preseasons and regular seasons with the Jets. His first RS kick as a Jet was the 28-yarder on which he slipped and had the ball partially blocked at Kansas City in '05. His longest unblocked miss as a pro was the 30-yarder at Tennessee in the '06 opener. He missed twice from 28 in college.
So one could throw up one's hands and say Nuge is falling apart. Or one could look at the track record, that since the Titans game, he's hit two last-minute game-tying field goals and three game-winners and improved his kickoffs tremendously and that the Redskins kick was, as he said, "that one-out-of-a-thousand kick."
"Coach is smart," Nugent said. "In effect he's saying don't completely forget about it, learn something about it, but get it out of your system."
Nuge admits that's easier said than done, but he also a history of rebounding from these rough games with long stretches of excellence. And the best time to start his next run is now just four days away against the Giants back at the Meadowlands.