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Eric Goska column: Longwell piles up points on both sides of the border

Nov. 11, 2011
 
Fifteen-year veteran kicker Ryan Longwell has banked 194 points in 29 Packers-Vikings games.
Fifteen-year veteran kicker Ryan Longwell has banked 194 points in 29 Packers-Vikings games. / File/Gannett Wisconsin Media

Points well made

Players who have scored 75 or more points in the Packers-Vikings series.

Pts. Player
194 Ryan Longwell
182 Fred Cox
93 Chris Jacke
80 Gary Anderson
78 Fuad Reveiz
78 Randy Moss
75 Mason Crosby

More

Fourteen years ago, Jeff Dellenbach was the center and Craig Hentrich the holder.

Monday night, Cullen Loeffler will likely handle the snap, and Chris Kluwe will position it for a swift ride toward the goal posts.

Times and faces have changed, but the kicker remains the same. Ryan Longwell, the leading scorer in the Packers-Vikings series, forges onward.

Longwell is a rarity in that he’s enjoyed productive careers with both teams. He’s played in more games in this long-standing rivalry than most.

Fifty-one years in, this twice-annual feud has yet to yield a player who has scored 200 points. Longwell has that milestone in his sights.

The 15-year veteran has banked 194 points in 29 games. Furthermore, he returns to Lambeau Field where he’s never missed a kick in a regular-season meeting between these combatants.

Signed initially by the 49ers as an undrafted free agent in April 1997, Longwell was claimed by the Packers the day after San Francisco waived him in July of that year. When a quadriceps injury in training camp sidelined fellow rookie kicker and third-round draft choice Brett Conway, Longwell stepped in and never looked back.

Longwell scored 120 points that season. At the time, it was the second most points by a Packers rookie behind the 128 of Chester Marcol in 1972.

Fast forward and Longwell, who turned 37 in August, ranks among the top 15 scorers in NFL history. With 58 points this season, he’s moved past Al Del Greco and Eddie Murray to settle in at 13th best all time with 1,641 points.

Should he play into his 40s, Longwell might join an exclusive group of five who have surpassed 2,000 points in their careers.

Longwell played nine years in Green Bay. He holds team records for most field goals (226) and most one-point conversions (376). He led the Packers in scoring a record nine straight seasons, and his field goal percentage (81.6) is still a franchise best.

He became the third Packers rookie to score 100 points in a season (Marcol, Chris Jacke), and he surpassed 100 points in each of his first eight years in Green Bay. He remains the team’s all-time leading scorer with 1,054 points.

After becoming an unrestricted free agent, Longwell signed with the Vikings in 2006. In addition to leading Minnesota with 90 points that season, he became the first kicker in team history to throw a TD pass when he completed a 16-yard scoring throw to tight end Richard Owens on a fake field goal in just his second game with the club.

Since then he’s amassed 587 points to rank fourth on the team’s all-time scoring list. Ahead of him are Fred Cox (1,365 points), Cris Carter (670) and Fuad Reveiz (598).

Longwell will be playing in his 30th Packers-Vikings game. A year ago, he moved past Cox (182 points) to become the leading scorer in the series.

No. 8 has been quite accurate when these two NFC North neighbors collide. He’s made good on 41 of 47 field goal attempts (87.2 percent) and he has been perfect on 71 extra point tries.

He’s even kicked two game winning field goals. His 33-yarder sank the Vikings 34-31 on Nov. 14, 2004, and his 29-yarder downed them by the same score on Christmas Eve of that year.

While Longwell’s numbers at the Metrodome in the rivalry are not particularly impressive – he’s made 23 of 29 field goal attempts (79.3 percent) – he’s been perfect at Lambeau Field. On the grass in Green Bay he hasn’t missed in 18 swings for a three-pointer.

Those results seemingly run contrary to what one might expect. Kickers tend to be more accurate indoors.

But it’s likely because of those ideal conditions that he’s been asked to do more in the dome. In Minnesota, the average distance of Longwell’s kicks has been 38.1 yards; in Green Bay it’s been 32.4.

Furthermore, his longest attempt at Lambeau Field has been 46 yards. At the Metrodome, he’s tried eight from that distance or beyond.

Earlier this year, Longwell hit from 52 and 46 yards in the Vikings’ 33-27 loss to Green Bay in Minnesota.

Losses in this series have become more frequent for Longwell since he switched allegiances. The Packers were 10-8 against the Vikings from 1997 through 2005. Minnesota, by contrast, has gone just 3-8 against Green Bay since 2006.

Come Monday night, the Packers might welcome Longwell taking aim at three-pointers because that means the Vikings aren’t scoring touchdowns. However, if one of those attempts turns out to be an opportunity to win the game in the closing seconds, remember…Longwell’s a deadeye in this series at Lambeau Field.

Regular-season series

Overall: Green Bay leads 52-47-1

At Lambeau Field: Minnesota leads 18-16-1

Starting quarterbacks

Packers: Aaron Rodgers (35-20 overall; 4-3 vs. Minnesota)

Vikings: Christian Ponder (1-1; 0-1 vs. Green Bay)

Once a Viking, now a Packer

Nose tackle Howard Green spent the 2007 training camp with the Vikings.

Once a Packer, now a Viking

Kicker Ryan Longwell (1997-2005) is a former Packer.

Eric Goska is a Press-Gazette correspondent, a Packers historian and the author of “Green Bay Packers: A Measure of Greatness,” a statistical history of the Packers. Email him at aegoska@sbcglobal.net.

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