Hanson provides the deciding point in Detroit's come-from-behind 28-27 victory

Posted Dec 18, 2011

Extra points are often taken for granted by NFL fans.

Kickers are so proficient these days that the point-after-touchdown almost seems automatic. Fans sitting at home might run to the fridge for another beer while the teams line-up for the extra point.

That wasn't the case Sunday when the Lions' Jason Hanson lined up for the extra point with 39 seconds remaining in Detroit's game at Oakland. This wasn't your routine extra point. It was the difference between the Lions winning and moving a step closer to a playoff berth, or taking their chances in overtime.

Hanson sent his kick through the uprights, just has he has on all 45 of his attempts this season, providing the deciding point in Detroit's come-from-behind 28-27 victory.

"I've always said the best game-winners are extra points, and I got one of those today," Hanson said. "Kicking one in that situation was a big thrill."

It was a pressure kick if ever there was one. After 20 seasons in the NFL, Hanson is used to that situation although it has been a while since one of his kicks have come with the playoff implications that this one did.

What was going through Hanson's mind as he lined up for the kick?

"I wanted to make sure that we had our timing right," he said. "I knew I had to get the ball up in the air because the Raiders were going to come with everything they had to try to block the kick.

"Everything was perfect -- the snap, the hold and the kick."

Hanson was confidence but wary as he watched from the sidelines as the Lions overcame a 13-point deficit in the last five minutes of the game. It was the fourth time this season that Detroit has come from at least 13 points down to win a game.

"We've done it before, but the odds are still against you," Hanson said. "Everybody had to do their job for us to put this one away and they did. We don't want to have to come back like that, but we know we can do it if we're in that situation."

Quarterback Matthew Stafford directed two long scoring drives, including a 98-yarder that started with 2:14 remaining in the game. Calvin Johnson came up with some spectacular catches, but Detroit also got some clutch receptions from the rest of the receiving corps.

And then there was the defense.

"The defense got some big stops," Hanson said. "Especially the last time Oakland had the ball because even five yards closer would have improved (Sebastian Janikowski's) chances of hitting a long field goal.

"And the coverage on the last two kickoffs was outstanding. The kickoffs were just average but both times we stopped their returns at about the 15."

Hanson was the one person in Coliseum who could empathize with Janikowski's 65-yard field-goal attempt on the final play of the game. He said that he attempted one from 62 or 63 yards in Minnesota's domed stadium several years ago.

"He had a small chance of kicking it from that distance," Hanson said. "He's been great this year. It had cooled off some, but he was slightly downwind. His confidence was high. I don't know if we got a finger on it or if he just didn't hit it that well but fortunately, we came away with the win."

Janikowski has kicked a 63-yarder this year, tying the NFL record that was set by Tom Dempsey of New Orleans against the Lions in 1970 and later equaled by Denver's Jason Elam.

Hanson hasn't been part of a playoff team since 1999, but he wasn't just thinking of himself when the Lions won to open a two-game margin over their closest competition in the NFC Wild Card race.

"I'm happy for the guys who have worked so hard to get us to this point," Hanson said. "I think I'm most excited for our fans who have been rooting for us during some tough years. This is fun for everyone."