Garrett Hartley Had a Dream About Making a Game-Winning Field Goal in the NFC Championship Game and the Dream Came TrueJanuary 26, 2010 – 11:39 am by Chris Fedor
This postseason, field goals in the NFL were anything but a given. Jay Feely missed two field goals in the AFC Championship game against the Colts. Nate Kaeding missed three field goals against the Jets. Shayne Graham, the guy that the Bengals slapped the franchise tag on this past season missed two field goals in the first round of the playoffs. Even Shaun Suisham missed a pair of field goals against the Vikings in the divisional round of the playoffs. A number of NFL kickers struggled in the playoffs. In the NFC Championship, it would’ve appeared to many people that the Vikings would’ve had the advantage if the game would’ve come down to a field goal. After all, Minnesota had Ryan Longwell who has a ton of postseason experience compared to little known Garrett Hartley.
On Sunday evening against the Minnesota Vikings, things didn’t play out that way. The Saints are known for their offensive firepower with high-profile players like Drew Brees, Marques Colston and Reggie Bush. However, the biggest play of the NFC Championship game for the Saints wasn’t made by Drew Brees, it wasn’t made by Darren Sharper, it wasn’t made by Reggie Bush, and it wasn’t even made by Pierre Thomas. It was made by Garrett Hartley, a onetime undrafted free agent that was cut by the Broncos and suspended in 2009. In overtime, the Saints lined up for a game-winning 40 yard field goal and Garrett Hartley’s leg is the reason that the Saints are on their way to Miami.
Garret Hartley joined Waddle and Silvy on ESPN Radio Chicago to talk about the game-winning kick that he made against the Vikings, what Sean Payton said to him before the kick, what the fans have been like in New Orleans, and what he said to Mark Brunell once he knew the kick was in.
Take us through the moment, if you got any sleep?
“It was so funny, you know, last night after the game it was kinda like, just, like, in nevernever land, did that just happen, it didn’t really sink in, hey, you know, our team is going to the Super Bowl, and just having the city on our shoulders and all their support, it really hit me a lot harder this morning.”
Did you really have a premonition you’d kick the game winner?
“That’s the most, uh, craziest thing ever. You know, I’ve never really been about anything along those lines. It was like 2, 2:15 in the morning, and I couldn’t sleep and had this thought it would be a 42 yarder from the right hash, and it ended up being a 40 on the right hash. I called him (his dad) and the first thing he said was “What are you doing up?”, and I well, you know “A lot of stuff is on my mind…” (call is dropped)
Hey sorry about that guys, cell phone. I was just telling him that it was, just, um, things were gonna happen and it was gonna come down to a field goal, and I guess doing the whole fatherly figure you know, talk, just telling me I’ve been doing this for a number of years now, and just concentrate and go out there and help my team win, and it was just crazy how things ended up playing out like that.”
What does your coach Sean Payton say to you before the kick?
“Um, he just basically told me there’s a fleur-de-lis up there on the second banner, or uh up there on the second level of the stadium, and he just told me to aim it at that right down the middle. And I’m not quite sure, I think I mighta been a couple inches off, but obviously after I kicked the ball I didn’t even watch it go through the uprights, I just knew, I just turned to Mark Brunell our holder and said “We’re going to Miami!”
Do you remember it vividly, or is it a blur?
“Uh, I think it’s kinda both. I think if I stop myself and slow things down, I remember actually, maybe, striking the ball. It’s kinda like when a batter hits that perfect home run ball, you just don’t feel anything on the bat. That’s kinda how it felt off my foot – I looked up and it was headed right down the pipe.”
Does this redeem you from the missed field goal versus Tampa?
“Well I haven’t seen the YouTube video yet, but I guess now that you mention it I’ll check it out. But, you know, look, I’m 23 years old, and the way I think of it is, I have a lot of learning and maturing to do and I’m trying to do the best I can. I’ve had a roller coaster of a season, everything with my suspension and coming back versus Washington and coming back then and hitting the game winner there. And then being on the other side of the ball, I did come up short in versus Tampa, you know, a 37 yarder and I pushed it left, and everything I guess I’d say happens for a reason, and I was able to learn from that experience, not rush myself, take my time. And I was able to do that last night.”
Listen to Garrett Hartley on ESPN 1000 in Chicago with Waddle and Silvy here (Audio starts at 1:11:05 into the podcast)