Strickly Panthers: Kasay foots the blame

CLEVELAND – Given the location of John Kasay's locker at Cleveland Browns Stadium, it couldn't have been more convenient for the Panthers kicker to go hide in a corner.

Kasay, however, did just the opposite – as teammates throughout the locker room expressed gratitude that Kasay remains in their corner.

"That means a lot," Kasay said in a rare interview from his corner locker after he missed a 42-yard field goal on the final play of the Panthers' 24-23 loss. "I try to do the best I can to give them opportunities to win. This is one of those days where they did everything they needed to do to win the game, and I was the one to let them down. There's no other way to look at it."

Kasay stayed away from the media after he gave the Panthers their lone victory of the season with a 37-yard field goal with 39 seconds left in a 23-20 victory over the San Francisco 49ers a month ago.

More often than not, he kindly declines interview requests. One exception: when he feels the need to take responsibility.

"I wish I would have made that kick," Kasay said. "It's a neat thing, seeing young guys stepping up and making plays. That's what it takes to win in this league, and those guys did that today.

"They got the job done. I was the one that failed."

While Kasay was hard on himself, his teammates – old ones and new ones alike -- came hard to his defense.

"A 20-year vet? When the game's on the line, I'm riding with him every day," said rookie wide receiver Brandon LaFell, who hauled in a 28-yard catch to set up Kasay's potential game-winner. "If we could go back and do it again, I'm sure he would hit it. If we're in the same situation next week, he'll hit it."

Veteran linebacker Jon Beason, in calling Kasay "one of the best to ever do it," took it a step further. Not only did Beason not blame Kasay – he blamed himself.

"It doesn't come down to that play. I look at myself first, and there were some plays out there where I could have definitely changed the outcome," said Beason, who locked in on his missed opportunity to stop running back Peyton Hillis on a third-and-10 pass play that opened the door for what proved the game-winning field goal. "A captain makes that play. An All-Pro makes that play.

"If I was as half as consistent as he is, I'd be a Hall of Famer already."

As a kicker with Hall of Fame numbers (though the Pro Football Hall of Fame rarely recognizes kickers), Kasay understands every nuance of every kick he attempts. In the end, that's why he stood mystified by Sunday's last-second miss off the left upright.

Kasay didn't see whether his kick went through – Cleveland defensive back Joe Haden knocked him off his feet – but Kasay thought that he knew that it was going to go through.

Earlier in the half, when Kasay missed a 46-yarder, he knew it.

"I knew with the first one that I didn't hit it as clean as I wanted to, but that was what was so strange about this last one. I hit it clean, like I wanted to hit the ball," Kasay said. "I hit it exactly how I wanted to hit it, so I was really surprised to hear the stadium as loud as it was.

"My thought was, 'What happened?' "

His teammates wondered the same thing – not because they blame Kasay, but because they believe in him.

"I thought it was good. I threw my hands up like it was good," running back Mike Goodson said. "John is usually automatic, but it happens to the best of 'em."

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