TAMPA, JAN. 27 -- Scott Norwood said he never doubted his ability to kick a 47-yard field goal in the final seconds, in fact welcomed the opportunity for what teammate Mark Kelso described as "a kicker's dream."
But now, sitting on a podium answering question after question about a kick that went wide right and cost the Buffalo Bills a Super Bowl championship, his eyes glistened slightly as he talked dejectedly about a miss that will always be remembered in the annals of this game.
Tears almost came when someone asked him what his teammates said to him coming off the field and in the locker room following the New York Giants' 20-19 victory in the silver anniversary Super Bowl.
"My teammates are behind me," said the kicker, a graduate of Jefferson High School in Annandale and James Madison University. "I realized I missed a big opportunity for them . . . let a lot of people down. It's tough to deal with emotionally . . . I'm down, no doubt about it. I take it very personally."
The Bills had done almost everything in their power to get Norwood in position to be a hero. Quarterback Jim Kelly said his goal was to get the football to the Giants 30 as he began the Bills' final drive from their 10 with 2:16 remaining. He drove it to the 29.
"We tried to take our time, and not get too greedy," Kelly said. "They were dropping everybody back in coverage, so we took what we could. We took what we wanted and got it where we wanted."
The Giants also did what they wanted to make Norwood think about his kick. With eight seconds left, they called time out, hoping that Norwood would go stiff with nervousness. He had kicked a 48-yard field goal this season; his longest ever on grass was 47 yards.
"I didn't mind the timeout," Norwood insisted. "It gives you a chance to go over your own checklist . . . You want to give yourself the proper angle, tell yourself to keep your head down, don't start too quickly and consider the target line.
"I probably emphasized kicking the ball a little too strongly. It was one swing of the leg, and it just didn't work out . . . I was going for the right upright. I was emphasizing hitting a strong ball.
"I kept my head down, and then I looked up and I saw the ball wasn't drawing in. I've kicked enough field goals to know I'd missed it. It was a real sinking feeling."
Norwood, who made 24 of 34 field goal attempts in the regular season and two previous playoff games, was asked if he had any particular theory as to why this kick failed mechanically. He said it was a perfect snap from center, a perfect hold by Frank Reich.
"It was my normal technique into the ball," he said. "I guess my hips didn't come through enough to bring it in . . . I felt positive about the kick. I felt capable of hitting it. It wasn't a chip shot, but I felt I could definitely make it.
It would have been nice to have been five yards closer, but the Bills could not take a chance on running one more play to give him that added edge. "What can you say?" he said. "I'm just so disappointed about letting those guys down."
His teammates insisted they did not hold Norwood to blame for the closest loss in Super Bowl history.
"You can't blame Scottie," Kelly said. "Hell, we've got a lot to be proud of. Penalties killed us early, some bad calls on my part, some dropped passes. Give them credit, they played very tough defense tonight.
"We had a taste of it this year. We know how to do it, how to win and get here. We're just going to have to wait a little longer, that's all."
Added safety Kelso, Norwood's roommate and best friend on the team, "Nine out of ten he makes the kick. It's a kicker's dream, but it just wasn't meant to be."