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Archive for Saturday, November 1, 2008

Janikowski inches closer to record

November 1, 2008

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— When Sebastian Janikowski arrived in Oakland in 2000 there were big expectations for the big-legged kicker who was the first specialist drafted in the opening round in 21 years.

A career that began with inconsistent kicking on the field and trouble off it has settled down lately as Janikowski closes in on breaking Hall of Famer George Blanda's career scoring record for the Raiders.

With five points Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons, Janikowski would surpass Blanda's mark of 863.

"It's just a number, right?" Janikowski said this week. "It's kind of cool. I'm just proud to be able to break his record. To me it's just a number, but it will be nice to have the record."

When Al Davis selected Janikowski with the 17th pick to be a game-changer with his booming left leg, it was supposed to lead to plenty of long field goals and frequent touchbacks.

The beginning of his career featured way too many misses for a kicker drafted so high. Janikowski missed 10 field goals as a rookie, and connected on only 76 percent for his first three seasons. Clearly, he struggled to live up to those lofty expectations.

"I don't care how high the bar is, I just try to do my best," he said. "I don't care how high the bar was. I don't think of it that way. You can't allow things to get in your head. It will just mess it up."

He also was briefly jailed on suspicion of misdemeanor assault, misdemeanor vandalism and public drunkenness - among a handful of run-ins with the law. But Janikowski's settled down in recent years as he has matured and gotten married.

Janikowski has attempted more long kicks than anyone since entering the league, with 39 tries from 50 yards or longer. But he has only made 18 of those attempts, trailing Jason Hanson (22), and Jeff Wilkins (20) for the most made. His 46 percent success rate from long range is the worst in the league in that span among kickers with at least 16 attempts.

Already this season, he set a team record with a 56-yard field goal at Kansas City in Week 2, then broke that that mark by 1 yard with the longest field goal ever in overtime in a win over the New York Jets two weeks ago.

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