Buffalo Bills kicker Dan Carpenter became sort of a running joke during the preseason. He was signed by four different teams in the span of three weeks after being cut by three of them. After being released by the Miami Dolphins on Aug. 14 after losing his job as placekicker to rookie Caleb Sturgis, he was signed by the Arizona Cardinals to compete with incumbent Jay Feely on Aug. 21. The competition lasted all of four days, until Carpenter was cut on Aug. 25. He signed with the New York Jets two days later, and once again lasted four days before receiving his walking papers on Aug. 31.
Then the Bills came calling, you guessed it, four days later. Carpenter was signed by Buffalo on Sept. 3, just six days before the opener against the New England Patriots, due to an injury to the Bills regular kicker Dustin Hopkins. By the time he got to Buffalo, he was a punchline. Things got worse when he missed his first field goal try of the year in the second game against the Carolina Panthers.
The 42-yard field goal that Carpenter missed in the first quarter against the Panthers was the last field goal he has missed to date. He’s been 15-for-15 since that miss, including three field goals of 50 yards or more; he’s also 14-for-14 on extra point attempts. In a season where he started as a punchline, he has become a reliable and integral member of the Bills’ roster.
Things kind of came full circle for Carpenter on Sunday. He returned to Miami where he kicked for five seasons and even made a Pro Bowl in 2008. Dolphins fans decided to thank him for his years of service by cascading down boos every time he attempted a field goal. It was a curious gesture by the Miami faithful, and Carpenter responded by going 3-for-3 on field goal attempts on the day, including the game-winning 31-yarder with inside of a minute left to play.
Carpenter didn’t choose to leave Miami, he was cut and had to endure the subsequent debacle with his game of musical chairs, but they booed him like he did something wrong. Such is the life of an NFL kicker. I’m sure Carpenter got over the boos quickly after hitting the game-winning field goal.