Sebastian Janikowski celebrates as he watches his 63-yard field goal in the first half Monday night. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Al Davis and the Raiders have been known to be well, unconventional.
Often, whatever drummer Davis is listening to isn’t heard by anyone else.
Back in 2000, for instance, the Raiders used the 17th overall pick in the draft to take a place-kicker. Who takes a kicker in the first round?
The kicker, of course, was Sebastian Janikowski, and he’s been one of the Raiders’ elite difference-makers for more than a decade, through good times – remember that Super Bowl all the way back in January of 2003? – and the current long playoff drought.
The thinking always has been teams can wait to get a kicker, that there’s no use wasting a first-round pick. At the time Janikowski was coming out of Florida State, some NFL scouts said he had the most powerful leg they’d ever seen. One said, “He had the most unbelievable leg and he had the most unbelievable workout a kicker has ever had, but you still don’t take kickers in the first round.”
The Raiders did, of course, and -- through all the team’s ups and downs -- Janikowski has paid off. He’s consistently booted kickoffs through end zones and been a threat to score from more than 50 yards.
Oakland’s all-time scoring leader added another accolade to his list on a wet “Monday Night Football” season opener in Denver, when Janikowski kicked a 63-yard field goal just before halftime, tying the NFL mark for longest ever (with Tom Dempsey and Jason Elam).
The kick at the time gave the Raiders a 16-3 lead, but it loomed large as the game progressed and wound up being the difference in a 23-20 Oakland win.
Janikowski told reporters after Monday’s game that he knew such a kick was possible when he kicked a 70-yarder in pre-game warm-ups.
“The Denver air is unbelievable,” Janikowski said. “The ball really carries.”
He said, however, that his record kick barely made it.
“To be honest, I didn’t hit it very well,” he said. “I just saw the replay. It barely made it.”
For Janikowski’s career, it was his seventh field goal of 55 yards or more. His previous record was a 61-yarder in 2009.
“He’s phenomenal,” Raiders coach Hue Jackson said of Janikowski. “What Sebastian did is unheard of.”
Janikowski told the media after Monday night’s game that he dreamed the night before of kicking a record-tying field goal to send the game into overtime and then was going to win the game in overtime with an even longer kick.
“It was weird that it all happened,” he said.
Sort of like taking a kicker in the first round.