Should Raiders have trusted Janikowski?

September 19, 2011, 6:02 pm
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ALAMEDA -- Should he have?Could he have?As the Raiders contemplated the nuts and bolts of their final, and ultimately futile, Hail Mary play into the Ralph Wilson Stadium southern end zone on Sunday afternoon, Sebastian Janikowski was at the ready. Rather, he he was on the sideline, preparing to charge onto the field. All he needed was the word, as he looked like a fidgety thoroughbred awaiting the starting gate to lift at Golden Gate Fields.Trailing Buffalo 38-35, the Raiders were on their own 44-yard line with six seconds remaining on the clock.So, a 56-yard bomb from big-armed Jason Campbell into a mass of Raiders receivers and Bills defensive backs? Or a 73-yard field goal attempt from the strongest leg in the NFL into the crisp, 65 degree Buffalo air with a 5-mph wind blowing southeast?"I did think about," a weary coach Hue Jackson said at the postgame dais when asked if he considered trotting out Janikowski. "I thought about it. I just didn't think we were close enough. That's why he is on our team. I have total confidence in him." Just not from 73 yards, apparently.Should Jackson have sent Janikowski out there for what would have obliterated the NFL record for longest field goal had he made it?The odds say Jackson went with the safer gamble, given that Hail Mary's work every now and again, whereas no one has ever -- EVER! -- made a field goal from such an absurd distance. Forget Stickum, SeaBass and the Raiders would have needed some Flubber on the ball.Could Janikowski have made it?Well, it's already been established that the left-footed kicker has the strongest leg in the NFL. He's turned making 70-yarders in practice into a habit, a non-event, with the regularity of such kicks. He attempted an insane 76-yarder three years again in Oakland that was essentially Lane Kiffin's last thumb in the eye of Raiders owner Al Davis.And, oh yeah, Janikowski just joined Tom Dempsey and Jason Elam in the record book with his 63-yard field goal at Denver on Monday. So you know Janikowski was juiced just to try it to hold the mark all by his lonesome. There would be no real pressure, either as he would be playing with house money. Or, at least, less pressure and more house money than Campbell and receiver Denarius Moore had on the, ahem, more conventional Hail Mary.Meh, knowing Oakland's lot on this day, and their soft-as-Charmin defense in the second half, Janikowski probably would have made the kick and set the record to force overtime. Only for the Raiders to lose the coin flip and watch the Bills march straight down the field to score the game-winning points.Still, it would have been interesting to see.