The Buffalo Bills maintained a strong tradition of special teams play during their playoff drought, although the beginning of the decade saw a bit of upheaval. Franchise-leading kicker Steve Christie played through 2000 with the Bills before heading to San Diego. The team spent two relatively unsuccessful years working through Mike Hollis, Jake Arians, and a young Shayne Graham before the kicker position settled down. Here are your candidates for the best kicker of the drought.
Lindell signed with the Bills as a restricted free agent after three seasons in Seattle. He would go on to start 152 games in ten seasons for Buffalo, the most of any kicker in franchise history. Lindell would gain a reputation as a reliable placekicker with pinpoint accuracy at short distances, who struggled to place longer kicks. His lack of leg strength also hurt him at times on kickoffs.
Lindell only missed a single extra point in his career (it was blocked), and was 305/306 for the Bills. His 83.3% field goal success rate ranks third among Buffalo Bills kickers, but what’s impressive is that it encompasses ten years of results. He converted 95.6% of field goals less than 30 yards, and 92.4% of kicks from 30-39 yards out. His lack of leg strength was more manifest from further out, converting 51/75 kicks from 40-49 yards (68%) and 13/24 from 50+ (54.2%). Lindell just barely trails Christie in most of the franchise kicking counting stats. In 2013, with the Bills having drafted Dustin Hopkins, they felt they could move on from Lindell, and he played one more season in Tampa Bay.
As it turned out, Hopkins suffered a groin injury after the Bills released Lindell. The Bills signed Carpenter, who was released after losing his own camp battle to a rookie kicker, ahead of the season opener. He turned out to be more than the team could’ve hoped for, succeeding on 91.7% of his field goals and all of his extra point attempts in 2013. He would play as Buffalo’s placekicker for four seasons, but began to struggle with consistency after the NFL moved back the extra point line of scrimmage, and the team cut him after the 2016 season. He didn’t play for an NFL team in 2017.
Noted for his strong leg on field goals, Carpenter attempted 21 field goals of 50+ yards during his four year career with the Bills, compared with the 24 the Lindell attempted in ten years. He completed 14 of those, a success rate of 66.7%. He completed 28/36 kicks from 40-49 yards (77.8%), and 67/69 kicks from fewer than 40 yards (97.1%). On extra points, he was 137/149 (91.9%). Carpenter edges out Lindell for number two in franchise field goal accuracy, or number one if you don’t count Stephen Hauschka’s single season. Like Lindell, Carpenter and kickoffs didn’t get along. He had issues with kicking stamina, and the Bills brought in Jordan Gay to act as a kickoff specialist and save Carpenter for field goal duty during his time with the team.
Place your vote! Who was the best placekicker of the drought? Tomorrow we’ll talk about punter, which should be one of the easiest votes of this whole exercise.
Who was the best kicker of the Buffalo Bills playoff drought?
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