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American Football: Tynes' dream comes true

The NFL has its storyline Super Bowl after a man from Scotland's dream became reality.

The New York Giants will head to Indianapolis in two weeks to face a New England Patriots side seeking vengeance for defeat four years ago, which saw their previously perfect season end without the biggest prize.

And, as on that occasion, the Giants owe their presence in the game's showpiece to an overtime kick from Lawrence Tynes, the Scottish-born kicker now in his fifth season with the 'Big Blue'.

Having sunk the Green Bay Packers from 47 yards in 2008, Tynes made a 31-yard shot at a rainy and windswept Candlestick Park to edge his side past the San Francisco 49ers 20-17 on Sunday night.

The 33-year-old also had to contend with multiple hold-ups, with his side penalised for "delay of game" -- failure to begin the play within the allotted time limit -- before the Niners took a time-out to further ratchet up the tension.

The Baltimore Ravens' Pro Bowl kicker Billy Cundiff had earlier missed from only a yard further against the Patriots, with 11 seconds left and overtime on the cards, but Tynes safely hit the target to seal the NFC Championship.

"It's my second NFC Championship game, my second game-winner," Tynes said afterwards.

"It's amazing. I had dreams about this last night. It was from 42 (yards), not 31, but I was so nervous before the game. There was something about tonight where I knew I was going to have to make a kick."

His accent now betrays no trace of his upbringing in Scotland's Central Lowlands, after a career forged in the States. The son of a Navy SEAL, Tynes excelled as a kicker at Milton High School, where the Celtic fan also starred for the school's soccer team.

He went on to Troy College, graduating with a degree in criminal justice, but went undrafted in 2001 before joining the Kansas City Chiefs' practice squad.

It was not until 2004 -- following spells with the Scottish Claymores and the Ottawa Renegades -- that he took to the field in the NFL, spending three seasons as the Chiefs' kicker before he was traded to the Giants.

He opened the scoring in the NFL International Series at Wembley with a field-goal in the 2007 game against the Miami Dolphins, but a more significant career milestone came at Lambeau Field later that season.

Having missed twice in the fourth quarter against the Packers, Tynes gained redemption in overtime and then became one of only three British-born winners of a Super Bowl ring as he and London-born defensive end Osi Umenyiora followed another Londoner, New England practice squad receiver Scott McCready in 2001.

Though the Giants will be underdogs, the pair now have a chance to repeat that feat -- and Tynes can dream of his big moment once more.

Irish Independent