Titans just leave it to their old pro

Anderson delivers

44-year-old kicker nails the game-winner to cap nearly perfect season

Titans 20 Ravens 17

January 04, 2004|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,SUN STAFF

It looked more like a line drive than a field goal.

The ball carried little height as it left Gary Anderson's foot for the eventual game-winning, 46-yard field goal against the Ravens with 29 seconds to play yesterday.

Some observers -- recalling Anderson's missed 38-yarder in Minnesota's 1998 NFC title-game loss to Atlanta -- openly wondered whether a game tied at 17 was destined for overtime.

But Tennessee defensive end Kevin Carter wasn't one of them. He needed only to spot Anderson trotting toward the sideline shortly after making contact with the ball to know the Titans had won, 20-17, at M&T Bank Stadium.

"I don't even watch the ball when Gary kicks it. I watch Gary," Carter said. "He always kicks the ball and starts running off the field. When he did that, I knew it was good.

"But even before that, I knew we had won the game because he doesn't get rattled. I knew that when I saw him out there warming up, preparing for the kick. He was calm. He's clutch, man. That's the thing about him. It was like taking candy from a baby."

Coupled with his earlier 45-yarder for a 17-10 lead with 9:13 to play, Anderson, 44, the NFL's all-time leading scorer, converted his league-high 522nd and 523rd career field goals.

Of the 15th game-winner of his career, the kicker said: "That last one I didn't hit perfectly or comfortably, but I thought I hit it straight."

Anderson, in his 22nd year, has converted all 44 of his extra points, is 29-for-33 on field goals this season and has not missed from inside 40 yards.

Comparing his craft to his golf game, Anderson said: "The bag doesn't have the Tiger Woods 5-iron in it anymore, but I can kick a little bit further than that. I have a few different clubs in my bag, depending on the situation."

But his effort wasn't bad for a guy who was on vacation and fly fishing in early September.

Signed by the Titans after Joe Nedney injured his knee in the season opener, Anderson -- who also has played for Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Minnesota -- listed a chance to play one last time in front of his family as his main reason for returning to the NFL.

His second shot at glory yesterday came in front of his wife, his 13- and 14 year-old sons and his brother, Terrance, who lives in Baltimore.

"I'm so thrilled that my wife and boys and brother were here. They were somewhere out there in peanut heaven watching and I'm looking forward to seeing them in a few minutes," said the 5-foot-11, 184-pounder.

Anderson also said he was motivated to end the Titans' five-game losing streak against the Ravens.

"One of the things that was amusing to me all week is that I kept reading about this history of the rivalry between the Titans and the Ravens," he said. "But I really never dreamed that this would happen. I feel honored and I'm so thankful to have the opportunity today and I feel honored to help this Titan football team get this monkey off our back against the Ravens today."

But Anderson said this is his final season as a professional.

"Last week was an emotional game for me because I knew that was my last regular-season game," he said. "I'm not coming off of the stream anymore."

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