PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — When Jake Elliott was growing up, he wasn’t dreaming about Super Bowl winning kicks. Elliott’s passion was with a different sport.
The Eagles kicker was an avid tennis player during his early days of athletics, so Elliott had visions of taking center stage on the tennis courts of New York City.
“It was more of being in the final of the U.S. Open playing tennis,” said Elliott. “I’m not thinking about football back in my childhood.”
Elliott is clearly thinking about football now. Elliott has enjoyed a spectacular season with the Eagles after taking over for the injured Caleb Sturgis.
Elliott and his teammates are getting ready to head to Minneapolis for Super Bowl LII. There have been a host of close Super Bowls in recent years and Elliott knows the championship hopes of the Delaware Valley may ride on his right foot in the closing seconds of the game.
“You want it to come down to that,” Elliott said. “If it does, then you’re ready for that situation, but that’s why you do it. You do it for those pressure situations.”
Elliott has handled pressure well throughout the season. His 61-yard game winning field goal against the Giants in week three appeared to be the starting point for the team’s Super Bowl run. Elliott has also hit four field goals in the post-season. The kicker believes his time on the tennis court during his younger days may have prepared him for the pressure of kicking in the NFL.
“It’s a lot of the same kind of situations,” said Elliott. “You’re out there alone and it’s really all on you. you have to be mentally strong in all of those situations and I think that’s helped along the way.”
Four Super Bowls have come down to last-second kicks. The Colts’ Jim O’Brien beat the Cowboys in Super Bowl V, while Buffalo’s Scott Norwood saw his kick sail wide to the right in Super Bowl XXV. Former Patriots Kicker Adam Vinatieri made game-winning field goals in Super Bowls XXXVI and XXXVIII. Does Elliott look back at the highlights of Vinatieri and O’Brien’s kicks while shielding out any reminders of Norwood?
“Not really,” Elliott said. “I think that makes the moment a little bigger than it needs to be. I just try and keep a level head and treat it like any other game.”
This will be the tenth Super Bowl appearance for the Patriots and the eighth with Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. Six of the previous seven Patriot Super Bowls have been decided by four points or less. The one that wasn’t was a six-point overtime thriller.
There is every reason to believe this will be another close Super Bowl, so Elliott may have the opportunity to create legacy status for himself in Philadelphia if he makes a game winning kick to give the Eagles their first Super Bowl title.
“I’ve definitely been through enough pressure situations now to where I think I’m prepared,” said Elliott. “You know how to keep a very calm and cool attitude in those situations, and we’ll let that take care of itself.”