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Novak Has a Knack For Game-Winners

Nick Novak raced onto the field, ready for a game-winning kick. Unfortunately, he had to run about 40 yards to get to the line of scrimmage.

He had been warming up on the sidelines on the opposite side of the field.

"John Hall started yelling to me, 'Get in there!'" Novak said.

Novak connected on a 34-yard field goal attempt, but a flag was thrown. The Redskins were penalized for a delay of game, pushing the field goal back to a 39-yard attempt.

Novak connected, and the celebration was on. The Redskins won 20-17 over the Seattle Seahawks. In two career NFL games, he has produced the game-winning points both times.

Strangely enough, Novak said the delay of game penalty may have helped him.

"It gave me an opportunity to go through my routine," Novak said. "I knew I just had to keep my head down and kick it the same way."

Head coach Joe Gibbs admitted that he was not watching Novak's game-winning kick. He had his head down, praying.

Even so, Gibbs said he has been impressed with Novak in practices.

"He has a good temperament," Gibbs said. "For example, we made him kick it twice because of the delay of game. He's mentally tough."

Gibbs said that he did not consider Novak a rookie anymore. During preseason, Novak was part of two training camps, kicking for the Chicago Bears and Dallas Cowboys in two stints. Novak signed with Washington when John Hall was injured.

Novak connected on two extra points in the nationally televised Monday night game, providing the game-winning points in the 14-13 win over Dallas on Sept. 19.

On Sunday, against the Seahawks, Novak's first kick was blocked. Later, he hit a 40-yard field goal that at the time gave the Redskins a 17-10 lead.

Novak, of course, made a name for himself at the University of Maryland. He had a knack for game-winning kicks for Maryland, and it seems to be carrying over in the pros.

"I think those kicks in college were big kicks on their own right, but this is a whole new level," Novak said. "This tops any game-winner I've had because it's the NFL.

"I treat every kick the same and you never know if it's going to come down to a field goal. You have to make the most of your opportunities when you are out there. After that block, I just wanted to get out there and make the next one. You have to have a short memory to play this position."

No doubt, Novak will have a long memory of Sunday's big win.

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