ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WIVB) – There weren’t many starting jobs up for grabs going into this season for the Bills but one of the biggest position battles during training camp was at kicker.
But that came to an end as the Bills cut Stephen Hauschka at the end of August making rookie Tyler Bass the starting kicker for 2020.
The Bills knew they were taking a calculated risk going with the sixth-round draft pick out of Georgia Southern over a veteran. But the gamble paid off as Bass was very reliably especially down the stretch.
“I know people were down on Tyler early and probably questioning the decision to pick him over a veteran but part of what we saw in Tyler, not only when he got here but in college was just nothing was too big for this kid and he is not afraid of the big moment,” Bills general manager Brandon Beane said during his end of the season zoom call.
It didn’t help when Bass got out to a shaky start. He missed his first two field goal attempts in the season opener against the Jets from 38 and 34 yards. He bounced back in that game making his next two from 19 and 22 yards. He missed five field goal attempts and an extra point in the first seven games but after that misses were rare.
The rest of the regular season Bass only missed one field goal attempt that was a 61-yard try at the end of the first half against the Seahawks in week nine. He also only missed one extra point the rest of the way regular season as well.
“He never made an excuse. I’ve been around kickers, a lot of times kickers will make excuses of the wind, the ball, didn’t get my footing right. Any miss he had he took it right on him and I thought that was a great quality, on that I haven’t seen in many kickers,” Beane explained.
Bass played in all 16 games during the regular season and ended with an 82.4 field goal percentage finishing 28 of 34. He also broke Steve Christie’s franchise record for most points in a single-season with 141 in 2020, which ranked fourth in the NFL in scoring.
His career-long came during the Bills’ week ten loss against the Cardinals where he made an 58-yard field goal. In that game he also became the 12th kicker in NFL history to make three 50-yard field goals in the same game. And he did it all in the same quarter, becoming the only one to accomplish that. In addition to his 58-yarder, he also hit from 54 and 55 in the second quarter of that game.
He also played in all three playoff games and made all four field goal attempts in the AFC title game against the Chiefs including two, 51-yarders.
“And he made some big time kicks. I was happy for him the other night he hit a couple 50 some yarders in that pressure situation,” Beane said.
“He was a great weapon for us on kickoffs you know whether we hung them up or whether we wanted to just kick it out of the end zone and not let them return.”
His strong, young leg was a big reason the Bills drafted him and it certainly showed up during his rookie season. After maybe getting the nerves out early in the year, Bass proved the Bills made the right choice by going with him as their starter.