Geoff Hobson, senior writer for Bengals.com, conducts another of his weekly conversations, this one with Bengals third-year kicker Evan McPherson. One of Monday night's heroes of the 19-16 victory over the Rams with four field goals, McPherson had the third game of his career with multiple field goals from beyond 50 yards to jack his career mark to 16-for-20 from long range. The Bengals return to Tennessee Sunday (1 p.m.-Cincinnati's FOX 19), scene of his 52-yarder at the gun in the 2021 AFC Divisional that put the Bengals in the AFC title game.
GH: Four huge ones on a Monday night. It looked like Money Mac at his Money Mac best.
EM: I wouldn't necessarily say I was hitting the ball the best. Just finding a way to make it go through the uprights. The operation was clean. (Long snapper) Cal (Adomitis) and (holder) Brad (Robbins) made my job pretty easy on those last couple. I think we're in a good spot.
GH: What was your mindset Monday night after the miss from 56 on the first series?
EM: You're really just focused on leaving that one in the past and moving on to the next and just going out there and have fun and enjoy it. I feel like if I sit there and just think about the 56 too long, it's probably going to eat me up and affect the rest of the game. So it's just kind of me moving on and getting ready for the next one.
GH: But how do you do that? I mean, it's so easy to say. How do you do it?
EM: It's like realizing, you can't do anything about it now. Right? You can't do anything about the miss after it's already happened. So I feel like it's just trying to forget about it as best you can. The game is still going to be there. But just forgetting about it because if you let it carry into the next one, you're going to be in a world of hurt.
GH: Did you ever have one bounce through like that 48-yarder going off the upright?
EM: No, I don't think I ever have. I'd rather it not happened again, you know? You can feel your heart beating through your chest as the ball is flying in the air. I hit it pretty good. And it just started kind of fading right and I was kind of confused and just kind of praying that it banked off the old upright.
GH: It didn't look like you did any body language to help it through.
EM: I might have leaned a little bit off the jump. It's like in bowling, I used to lean a lot. I feel like I helped it through a little bit.
GH: Why were you confused?
EM: Why it broke like that. The wind on the field for me was blowing right to left at the time and the ball faded right. And so that kind of confused me. And I felt like I hit it well, and so it really made me focus on the next couple. I really trust what I was feeling on the field, such as like wind and stuff and playing the right ball because that one really confused me.
GH: You said your heart was beating through your chest, but you're famous for having the great low pulse. You're the last guy I would expect his heart to go out of his chest.
EM: I say the heart was beating through the chest as the ball is in the air. It's kind of like looking at it, you're like, please don't go outside the upright.
GH: So there's a difference before you hit the ball and after you hit it.
EM: For sure. Obviously whenever it's going down the middle your heart rate probably drops drastically. But yeah, if the ball is tailing like that, your heart rate probably spikes.
GH: What do you think your heart rate was as it went through the air?
EM: Shoot, it was probably above 160 probably whenever the ball hit a right turn.
GH: Do you still monitor your heart rate?
EM: Yeah, I don't wear it right now. I wore it more in training camp and now it's more like a feeling type deal that I guess I've acquired just wearing it for as long as I have. You can feel kind of your heart racing and you have ways to slow it down.
GH: How do you slow it down?
EM: There's like military breathing techniques, right? There's like a whole box thing. You visualize a box and it's like four seconds. You breathe in for four seconds. You hold for four seconds, you exhale for four seconds. Then you hold for four seconds.
GH: You can feel your pulse?
EM: Oh yeah. I can feel my heart beating for sure.
GH: Is that your favorite breathing exercise?
EM: I would say so.
GH: Did you use it Monday?
EM: I did.
GH: How many times?
EM: I remember one specifically. I was sitting on the bench probably before one of the last two field goals. My heart was just racing. And I had to slow it down.
GH: Why was it racing so much?
EM: It's just adrenaline. The whole stadium obviously going crazy. It's Monday Night Football. Just trying to slow it down, control it. Make sure I ran out onto the field with a heart rate under control because if you have a high heart rate right it can affect your steps, your swing, everything.
GH: It seems like you've been in pretty good rhythm all year. Didn't miss in the preseason.
EM: Not bad. Had a few hiccups. I feel like for the most part we've been doing pretty well.
GH: Did you watch the game Sunday where Matt Gay of the Colts kicked four from 50 yards for an NFL record?
EM: Yeah, it was really impressive. He's really impressive. There's a reason he gets paid as much as he does. Super consistent. What I remember watching every single one of his field goals is everyone looked the same. Right down the middle. Really impressive.
GH: Did you ever think Baltimore's Justin Tucker would get beat by a guy who kicked four 50s?
EM: I was super surprised whenever Justin's kick came up short.
As soon as he hit, I was like, of course, it's going down the middle. And just for that to come up short. I was super surprised. But no, I mean props to Matt.
GH: Know him?
EM: We've talked a little bit. Obviously, we played against each other my first year in the Super Bowl and from then on we've kind of stayed in touch through social media and stuff. He's a really good player and I'm happy to see him doing well.
GH: Did that inspire you when you saw a game like that on Sunday? Get you jacked up even more for Monday?
EM: Yeah, you want to have games like that and obviously for kickers you're not necessarily fighting for your position with somebody on your team. You're fighting against all 32 guys. After watching the game like that you want to compete against that and his game. I think we did a good job. There's definitely some things that we didn't do well, but for the most part, it was good.
GH: What you did at halftime of this Rams game. The last time we played them in the Super Bowl, you and long snapper Clark Harris got in trouble with special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons for watching the halftime show.
EM: I did what I did for the last Rams game I played in. I came inside,
used the restroom. Got a bite of something, like an Uncrustable. Drank some water and then went back out on the field. That's exactly what I did on the other one. It just so happened to be a concert at the other one.
GH: Did you catch the Ring of Honor ceremony?
EM: I was too late. We had to wait for the field to clear to start warming up for that, just like the last one. But I was just sitting there waiting for everything to finish up.
GH: You did the same thing.
EM: Exactly. Same exact thing. It's routine.
GH: Did Coach Simmons say anything to you?
EM: No, we're all good. We were just deciding which way we wanted to kick off for the second half.
GH: How is that decided?
EM: That's decided by wind and stuff, which way you want to kick the fourth quarter. We obviously kicked towards the river to
start the second half so we could kick towards the city in the fourth quarter if we needed a long game winner or anything.
GH: You got it. The 54-yarder with 7:13 left in the fourth turned out to be a game winner.
EM: It's crazy. It's like, you never know which one's going to affect the outcome of the game. There are kicks in the second quarter or first quarter that decide the game. Because obviously if I would have went three-for-five or two-for-five, it really would have cost us. It's funny to see how field goals in the second quarter could affect the outcome.
GH: Going to Tennessee, what comes to mind?
EM: Tennessee is just a lot of fun. I feel like I've been there a lot in the past two years.
GH: One of your great moments.
EM: It was a great moment. Great memories there. It's a fun stadium to play in. It's close to home. (Fort Payne, Ala., is a two-and-a-half-hour drive to Nashville), so maybe that's why I feel so comfortable.
GH: What do you remember about the 52-yarder?
EM: It was a super calm night. Obviously I remember the big interception we got. We ran one play, got us into position. Joe (Burrow) takes a knee. Just run out there. I think the operation was perfect, as usual, for Clark and (holder) Kevin (Huber).
GH: It looks like it's going well with the rookie holder Brad Robbins.
EM: Our operation right now is super clean. I think Cal has done an amazing job with laces and placement. And Brad's done a really good job putting the ball down. And I feel really confident about those two.
GH: Can I just pull you in here to the office of equipment manager Adma Knollman and look at the framed photo you signed that shows you kicking the winner in the AFC championship? What do you think when a guy asks you to sign something like that?
EM: I can walk in here and look at it. It's a cool thing. It's a good moment.
GH: I bought one that was more of a drawing after I saw what Adam did with it and you were kind enough to sign it. How many pictures have you signed like that around town? Is it often somebody will say, sign this picture?
EM: I bet I've signed every bit of 1,000 of those.
GH: What do you think of every time you sign it?
EM: Just good memories. Good times. Get back to it.