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Without Stephen Hauschka, the Bills wouldn’t have been close against the Houston Texans.

In the end, many would’ve preferred the kicker to stay away from the field. At least until after touchdowns for an extra point.

Buffalo blew a 16-0 lead against the Texans in their Wild-Card showdown, as the story goes. The Bills only had one touchdown on the day, failing to get into the end zone besides their opening drive.

A bit overlooked? Hauschka, 34, was 4-for-4 kicking in the game. But wait, there’s more. He tied things up on a 47 yarder to send the game to overtime. No pressure there, right?

While most wanted Hauschka to stop before he got started, he told the Buffalo News he didn’t want to stop at four. He was ready for No. 5… specifically, the game-winning kick.

“I was hoping I was going to get that chance to win the game at the end,” Hauschka said.

Unfortunately that chance never came. Texans kicker Kai Forbath got his chance and converted a chip shot instead. There’s always next year?

That seems like a real possibility now, at least.

Hauschka had his struggles this season. His 2018 season wasn’t very bright, and he ended up with the same conversion percent in 2019, 78.6 percent. That’s down from 87.9 percent in 2017. Along with the playoffs, Hauschka also settled down toward the end of the Bills’ season, despite going 1-for-5 from 50-plus this season.

While not 50, he did hit the game-tying kick from 47, again, so… worth noting.

“I felt like I kept us in the game,” Hauschka said. “It’s an emotional game. Everybody put everything out there that they could. We didn’t get the job done and it makes us hurt. We’ll heal and recover from this and this will motivate us in the offseason to train even harder, to come back even more focused.”

Repeatedly the Bills and head coach Sean McDermott expressed their confidence in Hauschka this season, even during his struggles. The one telling move was a wavier claim the Bills put in for Chase McLaughlin. Hauschka beat McLaughlin out for the Bills’ job in training camp, but eventually McLaughlin impressed with the Chargers this season, went on waivers, and was claimed by the Bills.

The Colts got him due to the waiver wire order, though.

More recently, the Bills did subtly give a nod of confidence for Hauschka once again. Kaare Vedvik was signed by the Bills on Tuesday. He’s a dual-threat kicker and punter.

But the Bills made sure to specify that he was going to battle Corey Bojorquez for their punting job when announcing Vedvik’s signing, not Hauschka’s job.

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