The Washington Times
Monday, December 24, 2007

MINNEAPOLIS — Washington kicker Shaun Suisham has the second-best single-season field goal percentage in Redskins history, but he’s not quite ready to call the season a success.

“That’s pretty good, but I’ve still got to finish strong,” Suisham, who is completing his first full NFL season, said before last night’s game at Minnesota. He played three games with Dallas in 2005 and eight combined with the Cowboys and Redskins in 2006.

Suisham, who made a 26-yard field goal in his only attempt against the Vikings, has made 27 of 33 field goal attempts (81.8 percent) this season, but the team record is out of reach. Mark Moseley converted 20 of 21 (95.2 percent) in 1982 as the only kicker to earn NFL MVP honors.

Suisham was 3-for-3 in the cold and windy conditions Dec. 16 at Giants Stadium after going 5-for-5 on Nov. 4 there against the New York Jets, including the game-winner in overtime.

“The conditions continuously changed, so every kick was different,” Suisham said of the game against the Giants. “I grew up in Canada, so [the cold] is kind of my thing, I guess. The first one [a 49-yarder] we wanted to minimize what the wind could do to it, so I tried to line-drive it on purpose. [Snapper Ethan Albright and holder Derrick Frost] are so good at what they do. It gives me a lot of confidence.”

Like any kicker, Suisham — who was 4-for-4 in domes in New Orleans and St. Louis last year, including a career-long 52-yarder to put the Rams’ game in overtime — was excited for the chance to kick in perfect conditions in Minnesota’s Metrodome.

“When the schedule comes out, you look to see where you’re playing and when,” Suisham said. “I was happy that we had [at least] the one dome game and that it was in December. It’s ideal.”

Dome sweet dome

The Metrodome isn’t just any stadium to Redskins coach Joe Gibbs either. It’s where he won the last of his three Super Bowls at the end of the 1991 season and where he coached the last victory of his first Washington tenure the next season.

“There are a lot of great memories of [the Super Bowl],” Gibbs said. “Everything went smooth. Everybody treated us great. It was a great experience.”

But it was a different experience than his previous Super Bowls in sunny Pasadena, Calif.; Tampa, Fla.; and San Diego.

“I always take the team some place the night before [the game], and we drove for 45 minutes,” Gibbs remembered. “We were in the middle of nowhere. There was 10 feet of snow. We wound up at some resort center, and the players were going ‘What is this?’ It was so quiet I think I slept 13 hours. There wasn’t a peep. It was like we were going to another land.”

Running backs coach Earnest Byner started both of those Metrodome victories, winning the first of his two championship rings. He won another as Baltimore’s director of player development.

“I scored the opening touchdown in the Super Bowl, but the thing I remember the most was the crowd noise,” Byner said. “It was crazy. I could not hear a thing. It was louder than when we played the Vikings. The shared emotions we had with each other when we won, nothing will ever replace that. But I was already trying to figure out, ‘How are we going to follow up winning the Super Bowl?’ ”

Despite sliding from 14-2 in 1991 to 9-7 in 1992, Washington upset host Minnesota in the playoffs to run Gibbs’ Metrodome mark to 5-0.

“We were just trying to get back to where we had been,” Byner said. “We knew we had to go to San Francisco the next week. The Niners always had our number. But we had no idea that Joe was going to retire [less than two months later].”

Gibbs said he didn’t either. Three months of contemplation ended with his announcement that he was walking away largely because of exhaustion.

Yoder sidelined

Backup tight end Todd Yoder was inactive for the first time in his two years with the Redskins because of a balky right knee. Washington’s other inactives were offensive linemen Mike Pucillo (back), safety Pierson Prioleau (hamstring), quarterback Jason Campbell (knee), receiver Keenan McCardell (calf) and defensive linemen Ryan Boschetti and Alex Buzbee. Rookie Sam Hollenbach was the third quarterback.

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