NEW ORLEANS ― Saints owner Tom Benson sidled up next to kicker Garrett Hartley and had one simple message Thursday night inside New Orleans’ locker room.
“Learn from your mistakes,” he told Hartley.
And that was that.
Hartley missed two field goals – one from 46 yards and one from 32 yards – in the Saints’ 14-9 win over Minnesota in the team’s season opener at the Superdome.
The third-year kicker went 9-for-11 in all of 2009, missing a potential game-winner against Tampa Bay in late December two weeks after coming up short in the bitter cold against the Redskins.
But he had been 8 of 8 in the preseason, including 3-for-3 from 30-plus yards and 3-for-3 from 40-plus yards.
After the game, he had no excuse.
“Both of those were completely me,” Hartley said. “The snap, hold and protection were great. Things like that are inexcusable at this level.”
Hartley said he understands what went wrong on both kicks, which missed wide left.
Regardless, he doesn’t believe he needs to dwell on the misses.
“I just have to look back and not overanalyze things and just kick the ball,” Hartley said. “That’s what I do. That’s what I’ve been doing and that’s what I’m going to continue to do.”
And about that talk from Benson?
“Regardless of who talks to me and tells me it’s OK, I know it’s not OK at this level and to go out there and miss field goals that could definitely secure a touchdown plus the 2-point conversion lead,” Hartley said. “That’s a mistake, fully on me and I have to correct.”