Rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud hit Tank Dell in the end zone with six seconds left on the clock to give Houston a two-point victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, but the Texans would not have gotten the win had backup running back Dare Ogunbowale not put three points on the board earlier in the fourth quarter with an improbable 29-yard field goal.
Thrust into action as Houston’s emergency kicker against Tampa after regular kicker Kaʻimi Fairbairn was lost to a quadriceps injury, Ogunbowale handled the opening kickoff of the second half but was not asked to kick an extra point until the fourth quarter because the Texans attempted 2-point conversions on three consecutive touchdowns.
When Ogunbowale, who walked on at the University of Wisconsin as a defensive back before switching to running back in 2014, had his number called with less than nine minutes left on the clock and the game tied, he delivered.
Stroud will draw all the praise after throwing for five touchdowns and a rookie-record 470 yards in Houston’s 39-37 win over the Buccaneers, but the Texans would not be 4-4 under first-year head coach DeMeco Ryans without Ogunbowale and his right foot. “Dare, he’s truly the player of the game,” Ryans said. “For him stepping up the way he did for us was outstanding by him.”
For 29-year-old Ogunbowale, who rarely carries the ball and mainly plays on special teams, it was his first field goal attempt, and make, since high school, when his No. 1 sport actually was soccer.
“I was always kind of the unwritten emergency kicker but nothing ever came up that I needed to be out there kicking,” Ogunbowale said after the game. “To win games in the league you never know what’s going to happen. That game as you saw came down to the wire. A lot of guys had to step up. I’m just glad I was one of the guys that was able to step up and help the team win.”
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Somewhat amazingly, Ogunbowale was the first NFL player not listed as a kicker or a punter to make a field goal since receiver Wes Welker in 2004. Finding that out, he joked his cleats should head to the Hall of Fame.
“I did not know that,” he said. “That’s pretty cool, I’m going to have to get these shoes to Canton. I don’t know how that works.”