By Scott M. Johnson
KIRKLAND – At 6-foot-3 and 226 pounds, Rian Lindell is not built like your average NFL kicker.
But even his frame isn’t large enough to shoulder the burden he has this week.
The Seattle Seahawks kicker, who missed just two of 17 field-goal attempts as a rookie last year, missed twice in Sunday’s 24-20 loss to Miami.
“This is probably as low as it will get,” Lindell said Monday. “I can’t imagine it getting worse, considering the circumstances. That would have been a really nice win for us.”
Coach Mike Holmgren hasn’t threatened Lindell’s job security yet, but it is apparent that another day like Sunday could cost the 24-year-old Washington State University product his career in Seattle.
“It’s something that every kicker goes through,” special teams coach Pete Rodriguez said. “The good ones work their way through it. The ones that don’t work their way through it find another vocation.”
Lindell missed a 35-yarder on Seattle’s first drive Sunday, then missed a key 28-yard field goal late in the game that would have brought the Seahawks within one point of the Dolphins.
Lindell walked off the Husky Stadium field hitting himself in the head while muttering, “Just chip it through.”
“It was embarrassing,” Lindell said one day later. “My mom and step-dad were there, and then having to see my wife afterward like, ‘I shouldn’t have done that.’”
Lindell was one of the Seahawks’ few constants during the otherwise dismal 2000 season. He was signed to a contract in Week 5, and promptly hit 15 of 17 field goal attempts – including all three kicks from 50 yards or longer.
This year, Lindell has struggled. He’s 9-for-15 and has missed two of three beyond 50 yards. Lindell’s 60 percent conversion rate ranks 13th in the AFC, better than only Cincinnati’s Neil Rackers (7-for-14).
“Even in practice and everything, I’ve been trying to get into a rhythm,” Lindell said. “It’s day by day. It’s not that I’ve been horrible, but it’s always a work in progress. If I play for 10 years, I’m still going to be trying to hit a more perfect ball.”
Lindell’s kicks on Sunday were far from perfect. The first miss sailed wide left, but not by much, while the second one wasn’t even close. Lindell said his point of impact on both kicks was too high on the ball.
Of course, part of his recent struggles is also mental. That’s what makes the wait so difficult.
“The only real true test is the game,” Rodriguez said. “Practice is great, and you try to simulate the game situation, but it’s not the same.”
Lindell vowed to be better in this weekend’s road game against the Washington Redskins. And by all accounts, he’d better be.
“The thing that has made Rian is his clutch field-goal kicking and his consistency,” Rodriguez said. “That’s what separated him. He’s got to have that to be here.”