The Dolphins have depended on Caleb Sturgis’ perfection so far this season.
So when Sturgis was asked to try a career-long 57-yard field goal Sunday with his team needing it to tie the score with 38 seconds left against the Ravens — a tough task for any kicker, let alone a rookie — the Dolphins felt comfortable.
“[For] the game winner, we thought near the 40-yard line would be a game winner,” Dolphins coach Joe Philbin said.
Sturgis knew from the moment he kicked the ball, his perfect streak was over.
The attempt had the distance, but drifted wide left, sealing the Dolphins’ 26-23 defeat.
“I just mishit it a little bit,” Sturgis said. “It was a great snap and hold and the protection was great. The wind usually blows into you there. I wanted to make sure I got into it and I mishit it a little bit and I cost the team.”
Sturgis said the wind didn’t play a factor in the miss. Neither did the frantic pace of the Dolphins’ fourth quarter drive since they had no timeouts.
“It depends what the conditions are and I shouldn’t have done anything differently,” Sturgis said. “Because of the distance, I wanted to make sure I got it there, but I hooked it pretty good. If the humidity is really high, the ball won’t carry as far, but the ball was traveling pretty good today. There wasn’t much wind at that time.”
Philbin didn’t think the conditions were a factor either.
“Not to my knowledge,” Philbin said. “I’m not a wind expert. I didn’t really have a good angle. I couldn’t really tell [whether it was good].”
Sturgis also had one of his kickoffs late in the game sail out of bounds, giving the Ravens the ball at the 40-yard line right after the Dolphins tied the score at 23 with 8:03 remaining in the fourth quarter. The Dolphins, however, forced the Ravens to punt on the ensuing drive.
Sturgis has been one of the biggest bright spots for the team through five games.
Sturgis entered the game a perfect 7 for 7 and tied for third in the NFL among kickers yet to miss a field goal this season. He was also 2 for 2 on kicks of 50 yards or more and 5 for 5 on attempts at least 45 yards long.
Sturgis made all nine of his field goal attempts in the preseason, convincing the Dolphins they were ready to trust their fifth-round pick out of the University of Florida with the starting job over incumbent Dan Carpenter.
A booming foot
Sturgis showed the team he had the ability to make kicks from that range since the preseason, making a 58-yarder in the team’s second exhibition game at Jacksonville.
Sturgis went 3 for 3 on fields goals of 50 or more yards in his final season in college and had a career-long of 56.
On Sunday, Sturgis again played a key role in the Dolphins nearly coming back to win, making three more field goals of 48, 37 and 25 yards.
“It was a bad time to miss,” Sturgis said. “I just have to go out there and make it and I didn’t.”
Sturgis’ season-long is a 54-yarder against the Colts, which gave him the second-longest in franchise history by a rookie behind Pete Stoyanovich (59). His next made field goal would give him 11 and put him halfway to the franchise’s single-season rookie record held by Fuad Reveiz.
“This is a great group of guys and they told me to keep my head up and that they have confidence in me,” he said. “It’s my job now to go and make things right.”