LONDON (AP) — The kick looked good. However, Wil Lutz didn’t get the bounces.
Even the Minnesota Vikings were preparing for overtime when the Saints kicker struck his 61-yard field-goal attempt.
But then the kick drifted left in the north London air at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. It had the distance but hit the upright. And then the ball fell and hit the crossbar, too, before bouncing out.
With the miss, the Vikings beat New Orleans 28-25 on Sunday in the NFL’s first international game this season.
Lutz earlier connected on a 60-yard field goal with 1:51 left to tie the game. That’s the second-longest field goal in Saints history, tying Morten Andersen’s feat from 1991.
”I hit them both as flush as I could. Just honestly kind of still in shock second one didn’t go in,” said the 28-year-old Lutz, now in his sixth season with the Saints.
The extra yard was just enough space for the ball to drift, he said.
”I thought they were both in. I hit them both on the screws. The ball is going to move a little left. And the second one just moved a little more left.”
The bad bounce symbolizes the Saints season so far. They’ve now lost three consecutive games.
”I wanted to hit that kick for the team,” Lutz said. ”We needed a win today and that’s pretty frustrating.”
Lutz this week had discussed how soccer stadiums in Britain are well-protected from windy conditions. He attended an England-Germany soccer game at Wembley Stadium last week and said the wind gusts outside the stadium were hardly noticeable inside.
He called Sunday’s weather ”perfect kicking conditions.”
Minnesota kicker Greg Joseph was 5-for-5 with distances ranging from 24 to 47 yards – the longest one coming with 24 seconds left to give the Vikings the lead. That last one made up for a missed extra point.
Vikings coach Kevin O’Connell marveled at the range that kickers today have.
”There’s a lot of guys in our league now that can swing it and hit from 60 plus,” the first-year coach said. ”It definitely is a factor, how you manage those end-of-game situations, how you’re going to use your timeouts, use different defensive or offensive calls based upon field position knowing that the 42- or 44-yard line is in field-goal range.”
O’Connell had thought the 61-yard attempt was going to send the teams into overtime.
”I told him after the game, `you hit them both as pure as they come,’ When it left his foot, I thought it was going in. Then on the first bounce I thought it was probably going in. Then luckily it did not.”
The Saints will try to end their losing streak next week when they host the Seattle Seahawks in the first of back-to-back games at the Superdome.
”We need to turn some things around,” Saints coach Dennis Allen said. ”We are going to keep battling and we’re going to keep fight fighting. … We have a good group of guys in that locker room. We have got some good veteran leadership.
”We’ll bounce back from this.”
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