Ten years ago, kicker Lawrence Tynes was clinging to his NFL hopes while playing with the Scottish Claymores of NFL Europe and later the Ottawa Renegades of the Canadian Football League. A decade later and Tynes has built a solid reputation in the National Football League as a pivotal part of the New York Giants’ special teams unit.
After graduating from Troy in 2001, Tynes tried out with the Kansas City Chiefs as an undrafted free agent. He failed to make the team’s final roster that year, but after his time abroad, he was ultimately granted another tryout in 2004. He made the Chiefs roster after his second tryout, earning the role of Morten Andersen’s successor.
Tynes only made 78.2 percent of the field goals he attempted in his three seasons as the Chiefs’ starting kicker, but that didn’t stop the Giants from trading for him in 2007. The trade ended up paying off in a huge way for New York, as Tynes played a large role in the team’s unlikely '07 championship run.
Tynes hit 23 of his 27 attempts that season, which resulted in a career-high field goal percentage of 85.2 percent. But with fourth-year quarterback Eli Manning and veteran defensive end Michael Strahan stealing the spotlight as New York made an unexpected playoff run, the Scottish-born kicker was a mere afterthought.
However, it wasn’t a go-ahead touchdown pass by Manning or a game-clinching sack by Strahan that ultimately punched New York’s ticket to Super Bowl XLII. Instead, it was an overtime field goal on a frozen Lambeau Field by Tynes. After missing two attempts during regulation, the first-year Giant was able to drive a 47-yarder through the uprights when it mattered most.
Four years later, Tynes provided another equally clutch performance. Again in overtime of the NFC Championship Game, Tynes lined up a 31-yarder for the win. His kick was true and sent the Giants to the Super Bowl yet again.
Now that Tynes has kicked the Giants’ way to the Super Bowl on two separate occasions, he has legitimately become one of the team’s most valuable players. So far in 2012, Tynes has extended his value to the team even further.
Tynes has connected on all 10 of his field goal attempts and all eight of his extra point attempts so far this season. Of the Giants' 94 points through three games, Tynes has accounted for 38 of them (40.4 percent), including half of the points scored in the Giants 36-7 rout of the Panthers last Thursday. Tynes also played a pivotal role in New York’s comeback victory over the Buccaneers in Week 2, keeping his team in the game by hitting four field goals.
The kicker’s early season production is unexpected considering the fact that Tynes has only made 19 field goals in each of the past two seasons. With 10 field goals through three weeks of play, it looks like Tynes should easily eclipse his 2010 and 2011 totals. It’s even possible that he could surpass his career high of 27 field goals set in 2005 with the Chiefs and matched again in 2009 with the Giants.
Tynes has steadily improved throughout his career with the Giants, however, this season may feature his peak performance. In fact, Tynes, who has never even been elected to represent his team in the Pro Bowl, looks to be headed for an All-Pro selection when all is said and done.
But first he’ll have to outperform 2011 first-team All-Pro David Akers (San Francisco) and second-team All-Pro Sebastian Janikowski. Akers set an NFL record with 44 made field goals last season, and Janikowski has become notorious for his ability to hit the long ball.
Both Akers and Janikowski have undoubtedly stronger legs than Tynes—the two are tied with New Orleans’ Tom Dempsey (1970) and Denver’s Jason Elam (1998) for the NFL’s longest field goal (63 yards)—so Tynes will need to beat them with his accuracy. Janikowski, like Tynes, has converted all of his field goal attempts in 2012 (6/6), but Akers has already missed one of his eight attempts.
Since this is the first time in Tynes' career with the Giants that he will have the same long snapper (Zak DeOssie) and holder (Steve Weatherford) in back-to-back seasons, he should be able to build upon the consistency he's shown early this season.
The Giants have one of the most potent offenses in the league, and they move the ball effortlessly between the 20-yard lines. However, they’ve been coming up short in many redzone situations lately, which has resulted in more opportunities for their kicker. Tynes will need to capitalize on almost all of those chances, though, if he wants to be named All-Pro when the season concludes.