Nugent has hit 18 field goals in a row dating back to October 29
Mike Nugent's field goals spanned a grand total of 862 yards of NFL turf over 16 games this season. The second year kicker's 2006 journey has been so invigorating that breaking it down to simple yards and statistics would only demean its true value.
Despite a shaky start in Tennessee, Nugent's campaign ended with a dignified league honor. On Thursday, Nugent was named the AFC Special Teams Player of the Month for December. The Ohio State product was 12-12 on field goal attempts in December and added 11 more extra points for 47 points.
"It's kind of one of those things where you're happy to see it happen, but in my opinion I just see so many other things involved," said Nugent. "You see an individual award like that, and you're just thinking that so many other things have to be put together to get to that point."
Getting to this point was certainly an interesting ride. Not only did Nugent miss two field goals within 35 yards in the season opener at Tennessee, the Jets' first choice in the 2005 draft inauspiciously missed an extra point as well. Following the Jets' 23-16 victory, a few kickers were brought in for workouts just two days later, adding some heat on the young kicker.
"The case with all of these workouts is you need to have an answer in case the question comes up," said head coach Eric Mangini on Thursday. "You always want to be proactive with that answer instead of responding to the situation after the fact and not having that information. Mike (Tannenbaum) and JoJo Wooden (Assistant Director of Player Personnel) do a good job of bringing those guys through, keeping a list current, keeping the list detailed so that when a decision does come up, we can address it."
Nugent was never concerned about his job security. As the owner or co-owner of 22 Buckeye records, Nugent has always been confident – and rightfully so - in his trusty right foot.
"I think it's one of those things - where in the end - it's just part of the business," he said. "If you're not doing your job, then they're looking for someone that can. I took it as I'm just going to keep doing the same thing but learn from my mistakes and keep doing what I know I can do."
After bouncing back with a successful 42-yard kick the following week, Nugent went through a period of inactivity. He didn't attempt a field goal in three consecutive games and attempted just seven total three pointers heading into the Jets' crucial eighth game. The notion of a cold leg never entered his mind because he had a familiar experience to draw from.
"This year and last year were similar in that sense as I didn't have a lot of attempts early in the season," Nugent said. "The game is always going to be the same, so the biggest thing I took from last season was that experience."
Nugent entered the Browns' game in the first quarter to smack a 27-yard chip shot to cap off the first Green & White drive of the afternoon before missing from 52 yards in second quarter. Since that long distance misfire, Nugent has been perfect. The 5'9", 182-pounder bounced back to nail a 47 yarder in the third quarter of that same game and hasn't missed since.
"I've always had the confidence in myself," Nugent said. "Something that I didn't do a good job of early in the season was getting the confidence in the rest of my teammates and coaches because I wasn't getting it done on the field. Hopefully, now that confidence has been built for everybody else."
That confidence has led to 18 successful field goals including a career long 54-yard rocket in week 12 against the Texans at home. In that game, Nugent was good on four attempts and two extra points to give him 14 points on the afternoon. Three games later, he matched that feat in Minnesota following a botched first quarter attempt. Due to a poor hold, the kick was never counted as an attempt and the field goal streak remained alive.
The special teams' mix-up happened again a week later in Miami, but Nugent and the rest of the unit never let it enter their minds. It was the famous Mangini five-second rule at its finest.
"After both of those incidents happened, I was happy to see everyone out there just kind of be like, 'You know what, it happens and we're going to move on to the next one,'" Nugent remembered. "We hit four field goals in a row after that Minnesota one, and then when the same thing happened in Miami - we hit two more.
"I think as long as we just learn from what happened, we can move on to the next step and just forget about it and worry about it either after the game or in the film room the next day."
Thursday Injury Report Jets Questionable:FB B.J. Askew (foot), RB Kevan Barlow (thigh), CB David Barrett (hip), WR Laveranues Coles (jaw), CB Andre Dyson (knee), FB James Hodgins (knee), C Nick Mangold (knee), OL Brandon Moore (ankle), S Kerry Rhodes (knee) & DL Dewayne Robertson (knee)
Probable: *LB Matt Chatham (foot), *RB Cedric Houston (calf), *QB Chad Pennington (calf), *DB Eric Smith (foot) & *DE Bryan Thomas (shoulder)
Patriots Out: S Rodney Harrison (knee)
Questionable: WR Bam Childress (ankle), RB Kevin Faulk (knee), CB/S Chad Scott (back), TE Benjamin Watson (knee) & NT Vince Wilfork (ankle)
Probable: *QB Tom Brady (r shoulder), *CB Ellis Hobbs (wrist), *DL Richard Seymour (elbow) & LB Mike Vrabel (back)
*Denotes players who participated in practice