HOUSTON (AP) — When running back Dare Ogunbowale was thrust into action as Houston’s emergency kicker Sunday against Tampa Bay he was ready for whatever he might be asked to do.
He handled the opening kickoff of the second half with kicker Kaʻimi Fairbairn out with a quadriceps injury and figured he’d soon be called on to kick an extra point.
But his mindset changed after the Texans attempted 2-point conversions on three consecutive touchdowns.
“Once they started doing the 2-point, I figured I was off it,” he said. “But I was staying ready for it.”
And with the game tied in the fourth quarter, the Texans called on him to attempt his first field goal since high school.
His 29-yard kick sailed straight through the uprights to put the Texans on top 33-30 with nine minutes to go. They went on to a 39-37 victory on a late TD pass by C.J. Stroud.
“To win games in the league you never know what’s going to happen,” Ogunbowale said. “That game as you saw came down to the wire. A lot of guys had to step up. I’m just glad I was one of the guys that was able to step up and help the team win.”
Coach DeMeco Ryans raved about his contributions Sunday.
“Dare, he’s truly the player of the game,” Ryans said. “For him stepping up the way he did for us was outstanding by him.”
Ogunbowale is the first non-kicker or punter to make a field goal since Wes Welker did it on Oct. 10, 2004, for the Dolphins against New England.
When told of that stat, Ogunbowale joked that he might need to ship his cleats to the Hall of Fame.
“I did not know that,” he said. “That’s pretty cool, I’m going to have to get these shoes to Canton. I don’t know how that works.”
Although Ogunbowale said he had kicked field goals in high school, he added that he was never “on the depth chart” as a kicker. He didn’t even play football until his junior year and spent most of his childhood playing soccer.
The 29-year-old said that he’s been Houston’s emergency kicker since last season when he showed special teams coordinator Frank Ross his special skill.
“Last year we went through the whole emergency kicker thing, and I told him I could do it,” he said. “I did it in practice. I was always just kind of the unwritten emergency kicker, but nothing ever came up that I needed to be out there kicking.”
He added that he could have hit an even longer field goal than the one he made Sunday.
“We had a kicking competition in college, and I kicked a 45-yarder,” he said. “I’ve got some power in the leg if I need to.”
Though most of the attention was on his field goal, Ogunbowale said he was much more nervous on the kickoffs.
“Because you’ve got a lot of time to think,” he said. “The field goal, you run out there… (you) didn’t even have time to get nervous versus the kickoff. You just stand back there waiting for the ref to blow the whistle, so you do a lot more thinking. But the field goal, I was pretty poised.”
Despite his success on Sunday, Ogunbowale has no designs on trying to steal Fairbairn’s position.
“His job is safe,” he said with a laugh. “I want no part of that. He’s all good.”