For about four minutes, it was a Hollywood combination of Rocky and The Rookie. The last 31 seconds were an ugly, angst-ridden duo of Friday The 13th *and *Twilight.
With 4:25 left, rookie Clint Stitser, five days removed from being a Reno, Nev., realtor, capped his NFL debut with a 47-yard field goal through a stiff Paul Brown Stadium wind that gave the Bengals a 30-27 lead over the Super Bowl champion Saints. As he leaped in the air, holder Kevin Huber pushed him in triumph in one of the more joyous PBS scenes this season.
But an even stronger Brees - Drew - wrote the bad ending in a 34-30 New Orleans victory and Stitser was left looking for the glass slipper.
"College," said Stitser when asked about his last big kick in a career he hadn't been in a game since his 2007 season at Fresno State. "Thirty-nine yards. Right hash. At the end of the half against Georgia Tech in the Humanitarian Bowl."
Stitser says he's not sure if the feeling in his stomach was the same because he had no feeling.
"I was so focused on just doing my job, I was almost in a trance," he said.
He apparently snapped out of it after he pushed an extra point wide in the third quarter and forced the Bengals to tie it with a two-pointer with 8:08 left in the game.
"I have to look at it. I definitely have to get better between now and next week," Stitser said.
He also has to get better on his kickoffs, which were dangerously short. He got one of his seven inside the five and two didn't get inside the 20. The other four went to the 19, 14, 11 and six. But he did have the three field goals on three attempts, from 29, 23 and the big one. With Brandon LaFell injured and Aaron Pettrey cut, it is the first time in franchise history the Bengals have had three players make field goals in the same season.
"We played the wind on the longer kick. We played the left side of the upright," Stitser said. "Just pure and absolute focus on what I need to do to get it done. When I had good rhythm and good timing with the snapper and holder this week, I made all the kicks, so I just had to make sure I focused on rhythm and timing and doing my job."
Stitser had no doubt he would be sent out there at that point in the game. Head coach Marvin Lewis said it's why he's here.
"We're getting to know him just like anything else, and he's got some leg talent," Lewis said. "He's going to have to work through some things. But it was his first time out there in a real NFL game, and obviously a close game. On the kickoffs, he's got some work to do there because what we got today wasn't good enough. I don't know how he miss-hits the extra point — he shouldn't do that. But he made a big field goal, which gave us the lead there, which is big."
But with Brees on the other side, the field goal didn't give anyone a sense of finality.
"I was just fired up for him and fired up to see Huber pushing him and high-fiving him," said quarterback Michael Johnson. "I had a good feeling that wasn't going to be it. There was a lot of time left on the clock and that's a good offense. I was hoping that was going to be it or that we were going to get the ball back with a little more time left to make a play, maybe make a run at it to get a field goal to tie it up if they missed the extra point or go down and get a touchdown. Obviously that didn't happen."