Shayne Graham, who coached Bengals rookie kicker Evan McPherson at Florida after he became the Bengals' most accurate kicker of all time, had the perfect line Sunday night when he reached out to his old pupil.
With three field goals of at least 50 yards in Sunday's 32-13 indoor win for the Bengals in Las Vegas, McPherson made team and NFL history and had Graham musing.
"He said he didn't think he had six field goals of 50 yards in his seven years in Cincinnati," McPherson said Monday.
He was seven of 16 from 50 during 2003-09. McPherson is 6-for-7 and according to Elias it makes him the first kicker in NFL history to have six 50-yarders in his first 10 games. The six also ties him with the club's all-time leading scorer Jim Breech, whom took 181 games to do it, and he's two shy of the career club record of eight set by Mike Nugent, Doug Pelfrey and Horst Muhlmann.
He also is, according to Elias:
- The first Bengal to kick three 50-yard field goals in a game.
- The all-time club leader with six 50s in a season, breaking Muhlmann's record of four set in 1970,
- He's the third rookie to do it, joining Blair Walsh in 2012 and Tyler Blass last season.
- He needs five more 50s to break Walsh's rookie record of 10. He needs one to tie Greg Zuerlein for third place and two to get to Joey Slye's eight in second place.
The percentages from 50 is a timeline of the evolution of kicking. Muhlmann, who last kicked for the Bengals in 1974, was eight of 22 from 50. Pelfrey, who worked the last seven seasons of the century, was eight of 17. Nugent went from 2010-16 and was eight of 19. After Nugent, Randy Bullock went seven of 14 in the previous five seasons before they drafted McPherson in this year's fifth round.
"Just the level of kicking has increased over the past couple of years because people have gotten better and better at it," McPherson said. "You're looked at to make those kicks now. Really, I feel if you're on your side of the field, there should be a really good chance that you put it through.
"I'm not talking if you've got a really stiff headwind you're kicking into and you've got a 55 or 57-yard field goal, that might be understandable. But I'm just talking if we're in a dome or the right conditions, I feel like you should really make anything on your side of the field."
And don't forget the 47-yarder he hit Sunday, too. That makes him 15 of 18 for 83 percent, a club season mark Graham holds with 91 percent from 2007 when he was 31 of 34.
It makes you wonder what McPherson would do under a roof. The 49-yarder he missed in overtime against Green Bay last month was good until a last-instant breath of wind swiped the flag on the left upright the wrong way. But he did have some problems with Mother Nature on Sunday when he had the Allegiant Stadium grass give out him on one kick in warmups.
"The turf shifted under me," McPherson said. "And so I was learning from that, scoot up, slow up. Just making sure I'm under control, under balance. I knew if I got my plant foot in the ground there was a pretty good chance it would go through. It came down to figuring out the turf pregame."
The amazing thing is he still should be kicking for Graham in Gainesville, but he came out a year early and turned just 22 the week training camp started. He approaches the ball like he's the age of holder Kevin Huber (36) or long snapper Clark Harris (37).
"I think they've made this transition so much easier, so much smoother, on and off the field, both," McPherson said. "If it's pregame warmups, how to practice, how to handle certain situations. If I miss in a game, they're always there to pick me up and let me know that there's always the next one. We'll just go out there and hit the next kick. They've been great for me, just to learn from a football perspective and in the off-field perspective."
McPherson's not exactly a guy that's going to over react to anything. Heck, this is a guy that keeps track of his heart rate. Which, by the way, he thinks was about 130 or 140 when hit the third 50 from 51 early in the third quarter.
So he's not staying up at night trying to pick one of his potential nicknames that he sees rampaging through Twitter. If it was the 1980s and one of the Back to the Futures was in the theaters, "McFly," wouldn't be bad.
But it does sound like he's settled on one.
"If I had to choose, I kind of like Money Mac," McPherson said. "It's kind of catchy and kind of has a nice ring to it, you could say. That's kind of what some of the guys call me I guess on the team.
"Tell the announcers that I no longer go by Evan it's just Money Mac now."
Consider it done.
TREY TIMES 3.5: Another guy making history is right edge Trey Hendrickson. Of course, he's been making it since March, when his four-year, $60 million deal made him the richest free agent Bengal ever. Now with a full sack in six straight games, he's tied a club record that was set back in the '80s with linebacker Reggie Williams in 1984 and defensive end Eddie Edwards in 1983.
It's the longest active streak in the NFL and he can extend it Sunday in front of the man chasing him, the Steelers' T.J. Watt with four. Cleveland's Myles Garrett had his skein of six straight stopped in Detroit Sunday.
The man on the left edge, Sam Hubbard, had five straight with a sack in 2019 when he had a career-high 8.5. With the help of Hendrickson he's in line for his first double-digit sack season and they'd be the first two edge guys to do it officially together in Bengals history.
Two Bengals in double digits in this century hasn't happened very often. End Carlos Dunlap (13.5) and tackle Geno Atkins (11) did it in 2015. Atkins (12.5) and end Michael Johnson (11.5) did it in 2012. In the 1981 AFC championship season, Edwards had 10 and Ross Browner had nine on the other side, but it was linebacker Reggie Williams who led the team with 11.
"(Hendrickson's) helped me immensely just from every day pushing me to be better competing," said Hubbard, who knows how hard it is to keep a streak like that going. "He's a great player. I mean, it's not by accident by any means. You know, that's something that he talks about is 'one a game,' and that's what his goal is, to get a sack every game, and he said that from training camp on, and he's doing it every day. So, it's rubbed off on me a little bit. I think it's great to have him as a partner in crime."
But Hubbard also knows the inside people he didn't have in 2019, nose tackle D.J. Reader, tackles Larry Ogunjobi and B.J. Hill, as well as holdover Josh Tupou, have helped him get there, too.
"And not just Trey. It's Larry, it's D.J., Josh, B.J., everybody on the inside," Hubbard said. "It takes four guys to rush the quarterback, and when we're out there together, all four of us, we are all on our lanes, we're getting pressure, causing each other to make plays because everyone else is doing their job. And just the way we go about our business and work and film, we all push each other and that's why we're playing at a high level."
HERE WE GO: Let's see. At 6-4 the Bengals have a lead on the 5-4-1 Steelers and when they play Sunday (1 p.m.-Cincinnati's Local 12) at Paul Brown Stadium it's the first time in November or December they play with the Bengals leading them in the AFC North in six years. On Nov. 1, 2015 in Pittsburgh, the 6-0 Bengals beat the 4-3 Steelers. The next month at PBS in the game Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton broke his thumb, the 7-5 Steelers beat the 10-2 Bengals.
The homegrown Hubbard is embracing the upcoming rivalry weekend in both college and the pros.
"This is really the first time being a Bengal where this time of year we've had football that really mattered and has implications for the division playoffs and such," said Hubbard, who was playing at Ohio State in 2015. "So, I always play my best when it's rivalry games or the biggest rivalry games, dating back to college. Against the team up north, I always played my best. They play them this week, I consider it almost a rivalry of the same caliber, so I'm definitely excited and really excited to go to work and to try and put our best foot forward this week."
The team up north, of course is Michigan.