The Buffalo Bills of the 2010s featured mainly three kickers. Sometimes the kickers played fantastic, sometimes they were just good enough, and sometimes the season culminated in frustration and thrown helmets. As we move into the special teams portion of our roster-building exercise, let’s profile each of the kickers who led the Bills through the decade.
The decade began with the continuation of Lindell’s long Bills career, which began in 2003 when he was signed away from Seattle. It did start with one unfortunate note: Lindell’s first and only missed extra point, a blocked kick on November 7th, 2010. That ended his streak at an NFL record 321 successful XPs since beginning his career. Of course, Lindell played with the historically shorter extra-point distance, a change which we’ll hear more about below.
All in all, Lindell (especially late-career Lindell) was considered nearly automatic on kicks less than 50 yards, and not really reliable at long distance.
While he’s the franchise’s second-leading all-time scorer, Lindell played three seasons in the 2010s. In 2011, he lost half the season due to a shoulder injury. After the 2012 season, the Bills released Lindell, aiming to promote their new draft pick Dustin Hopkins. He suffered a groin injury right before the season started, so the Bills pivoted to a former Dolphin for their next kicker. Lindell played one more season for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before retiring.
Overall stats: 50/60 FGs (83.3%), 4/8 50+ FGs (50.0%), 95/96 XPs (99.0%), 17.2% TB rate.
As mentioned above, Carpenter joined the Bills right before the 2013 season started, after being cut for rookie Caleb Sturgis. He immediately turned in a career year, converting 33 of 36 field goals and all of his extra points. He also hammered touchbacks at a 41.0% rate on kickoffs.
Carpenter’s booming leg made him an asset on long field goals, with him completing 14/21 attempts in his four seasons with the Bills—including a 58 yarder. The team, concerned about preserving that leg strength, opted for a kickoff specialist in 2014 and 2015.
For 2015, the league revised their extra-point rules. The line was moved back from a 20-yard kick to a 33-yard kick, and this dramatically altered many careers and strategies. Carpenter really suffered from this change—in two years before, he only missed a single extra point. In the two years after, he missed 11.
His lack of success on extra points carried over to his field goal confidence, too. From 2013-2014, Carpenter converted 90.5% of his attempts. In 2015 and 2016, it was 80.8%.
The last straw was the penultimate game of 2016. The Bills, barely “in the hunt” for the playoffs, faced the Miami Dolphins in overtime. Carpenter’s 45-yard attempt missed right, and Miami came back to win the game and eliminate Buffalo.
The Bills released Carpenter ahead of the 2017 season, and that was the end of his NFL career.
Overall stats: 109/126 FGs (86.5%), 14/21 50+ FGs (66.7%), 137/149 XPs (91.9%), 39.7% TB rate.
As head coach Sean McDermott set up his roster, the Bills signed Hauschka to a three-year contract. The prevailing wisdom behind the transaction was Hauschka’s tendency to hit low, line-drive kicks (which would cut through the Buffalo winds).
His Bills career started red-hot. He was selected the conference Special Teams Player of the Week in back-to-back weeks in 2017, and broke the NFL record for consecutive 50-yard field goal conversions midyear. With an 87.9% field goal success rate, and a perfect 29-for-29 on extra points, Hauschka also smashed 50% of his kickoffs out the back of the end zone.
The 2018 season was more of the same—through 12 games, he was 17-of-19 on field goals, and 15-of-16 on extra points. A dirty hit after the play by New York Jets lineman Henry Anderson saddled Hauschka with a back injury in Week 13. Though he didn’t miss any games, his effectiveness plummeted. He only completed 5-of-9 field goals for the rest of the season, and the Bills opted to punt or attempt a 4th-down conversion rather than try longer field goals during the last few weeks.
In 2019, Hauschka’s accuracy on long kicks evaporated. Though he was 21-of-23 on kicks less than 50 yards, he only converted one of five attempts beyond that distance. In terms of success rate, it was his worst season since 2009, with 78.6% of field goals successful.
The Bills signed Hauschka to a two-year extension at the end of the 2019 season, but they also added Tyler Bass out of Georgia Southern University in the rookie draft. Going into the new decade, Hauschka is still a Buffalo Bill, but he’s officially on notice.
Overall stats: 73/89 FGs (82.0%), 12/21 50+ FGs (57.1%), 84/87 XPs (96.6%), 51.2% TB rate.
Those are your kickers. Which one will represent the team of the decade? Vote now!
Buffalo Bills 2010s All-Decade team: Kicker
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