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Carney boots game-winner for team he helped coach last season

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The NFL's oldest player made the NFL's biggest kick in week four. What makes it all the more amazing is that 46-year old John Carney(notes) helped win the game for a team he helped coach last season.

Carney was signed by the New Orleans Saints last season to replace second-year kicker Garrett Hartley(notes), who was serving a four-game suspension. He performed so well in Hartley's stead that he stayed on as kicker after Hartley returned. But a late-season slump forced coaches to cut Carney and install Hartley as the kicker.

It paid off. Hartley's 40-yard field goal in the NFC Championship game sent the Saints to their first Super Bowl appearance. Once there, Hartley became the first kicker in the game's history to kick three field goals of 40 yards or longer. He owed a lot of that success to the man who he replaced.

Instead of looking for another job after he was cut in December, Carney stayed on with the Saints to serve as a consultant for Hartley. The young kicker, who became a New Orleans hero after that kick against Minnesota, credit Carney for aiding in the team's success.

"John has honestly been a tremendous support," Hartley said last January. "He's someone that I can just lean on."

This year, Hartley was the Saints starter and Carney spent his time away from the team, hoping for another chance to make it in the NFL. When Hartley struggled -- he missed a chip-shot 29-yard field goal that would have given the Saints a win over the Atlanta Falcons last week and also missed two kicks in the nationally-televised season opener against the Minnesota Vikings -- Saints officials didn't have to go too deep in the Blackberry address book to find his replacement.

After Hartlet's miss, Carney got a call immediately after the game and was signed early in the week. On Sunday, he went three-for-three in the Saints one point win over the Carolina Panthers. His field goal with four minutes left was the deciding factor.

They say you can't each an old dog new tricks. But John Carney proves that an old dog can still do the same trick pretty well.

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