A little more than a month ago, kicker Matt Gay was on the Indianapolis Colts practice squad when Rams punter Johnny Hekker reached out via text message, wanting him in Los Angeles and trying to figure out how quickly he could fly out west.
Kai Forbath had just been placed on injured reserve with a lateral ankle sprain and L.A. needed a new starting kicker, so Hekker personally texted Rams head coach Sean McVay recommending they sign Gay.
Speaking to reporters during a video conference Monday morning, Gay said he didn't know all of the minute details that led to the Rams signing him off the Colts' practice squad. Clearly, though, it was a worthwhile move, with Gay feeling settled in as he enters his fifth week with L.A.
"Feel like 2020 was moving so slow, and then all of the sudden Christmas is here, it snuck up, and I've been here for five weeks," Gay said. "I feel like I've settled in really quick. It's easy with guys like Johnny Hekker and (longsnapper) Jake McQuaide, in a special teams room that brings you right in and makes you feel comfortable."
That comfort and confidence was reflected not only in his virtual media session but his statistics through five games in the horns.
Heading into Week 16, Gay has made 8 of 10 field goal attempts, going 3 for 4 from 30-39 yards and 5 of 6 from 40-49 yards. He is also a perfect 15 for 15 on extra point attempts. He also has touchbacks on 22 of his 26 kickoffs so far, with only three returned.
"I think it's consistency," Rams head coach Sean McVay said during a video conference Monday, when asked about his evaluation of Gay so far. "I mean, he's hitting the ball really well. I think the timing, the rapport between Johnny and Jake and him has definitely been demonstrated. We've got to be a little bit cleaner in some of the protections. We did have a couple of guys come clean, but he was still able to get it off in enough time with enough height that it didn't affect being able to convert on those extra points or field goals. I thought he kicked off really well too. Matt has done a really nice job for us."
Gay pointed to his Rams debut in Week 11 against the team that drafted him last year, the Buccaneers, as key point in earning the trust of his teammates. In a 27-24 Los Angeles win at Tampa Bay, he made 2 of 3 field goal attempts – including the game-winning, go-ahead kick with 1:17 remaining – as well as all three of his extra point attempts.
"With the team, I mean, I can't say enough (good things) about those guys," Gay said. "From the get (go), I got there Saturday, we played Monday against Tampa, and I feel like that game especially – I don't want to say win over the team, but it helps them gain some trust and confidence in you, which helps as a kicker. So they've been great so far."
This week, Gay and the Rams will be preparing for a road game against the Seahawks. In a normal year, it's one of the loudest road environments for a visiting team in the league – Gay has experience with this having kicked against the Seahawks in Seattle with Tampa Bay last year – but the Seahawks announced last week they won't have fans at their final home game of the regular season due to the surge in COVID-19 cases in Washington.
"I mean, it's good a environment, (but) it's different as a kicker," Gay said. "Sometimes the quiet is just as loud. You can hear everything when it's quiet. So you can hear guys in the opposite line chirping, exactly what they're saying to you, as opposed to maybe just a loud, deafening noise that kind of blocks everything out. I'm (still) expecting a good environment, a little bit colder of a game, so our guys (have) got to be ready to go and make an adjustment for the weather."