A happy straight-down-the-middle birthday to Steven Hauschka

Posted Jun 29, 2014

Sunday is the 29th birthday of Steven Hauschka, the Seahawks’ overnight-success-story of a kicker who has been years – and a career switch – in the making.

If things had turned out not all that differently for Steven Hauschka, he could be drilling teeth rather than field goals for the Seahawks.

When Hauschka headed to graduate school at North Carolina State in 2007, after kicking the previous three seasons for Middlebury College in Vermont where he earned his degree in neuroscience, the idea was to enter the family business. His mother is a dentist and so is his brother.

But on his way to the expected, the unexpected happened. Hauschka kicked so well in that one season for the Wolfpack in 2007 that the NFL noticed. After being a Lou Groza Award finalist as the best kicker in the country, he signed with the Minnesota Vikings as a rookie free agent. When that didn’t work out, Hauschka was claimed off waivers by the Baltimore Ravens, who then waived him, signed him to their practice squad and then to their 53-man roster in midseason.

Hauschka was 9 of 13 on field-goal attempts in 2009 for the Ravens, but was waived – again – in mid-November. He signed with the Atlanta Falcons in December, but was waived during training camp in 2010. He was then claimed by the Detroit Lions, only to be waived a couple of weeks later. After a stint with the Las Vegas Locomotives of the UFL, it was on to the Denver Broncos in December of that year. But he was released on the final roster cut in 2011, but only after kicking a 51-yarder on the final play of the game to beat the Seahawks in a preseason game.

Hauschka’s meandering past is significant, because the ever-steady kicker turns 29 on Sunday.

And he already has received the most-appropriate gift – the three-year contract he signed with the Seahawks in March after becoming an unrestricted free agent.

When the Broncos waived Hauschka, the Seahawks signed him and he has been so consistent that coach Pete Carroll referred to him as “Hausch-Money.”

“When we say ‘Hausch-Money,’ you know what we’re talking about,” Carroll said.

Yes we do: 25 of 30 on field goals and 34 of 34 on PATs in 2011; 24 of 27 on field goals and 46 of 48 on PATs in 2012; and 33 of 35 on field goals and 44 of 44 on PATs last season, when Hauschka’s 143 points led the NFC and set the franchise record by a kicker.

Last season, during the Seahawks’ run to the first Super Bowl title in franchise history, Hauschka kicked game-winners against the Houston Texans and Tampa Bay Buccaneers in overtime; hit three field goals in the playoff opener against the New Orleans Saints; added three more against San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship; and capped his perfect postseason with two more field goals in the Super Bowl romp over the Denver Broncos.

The secret to Hauschka’s steely success: He approaches all his kicks the same, whether it’s a game-winner or one of many in a laugher.

“Steven is very, very technical in everything he does,” said quarterback Russell Wilson, who also was teammates with Hauschka at N.C. State. “He’s a perfectionist. He had an unbelievable season for us, so you expect that out of Steven just because he does everything right.”

Especially when it comes to splitting the uprights. So we send straight-down-the-middle birthday wishes to the Seahawks’ kicker who was planning to become a dentist.