For some reason, Los Angeles Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein’s season-ending injury kind of slid under the radar, even though it could have huge implications in the NFC playoff picture.
Zuerlein was having an All-Pro level season for the Rams. He had hit 38-of-40 field goals, many from long range, but he had to go on injured reserve this week with a herniated disc. That’s bad, and then the Rams made the curious decision to replace him with Sam Ficken, who had never kicked in an NFL game.
Ficken’s first impression did not go well.
Ficken came on for an extra-point attempt after the Rams’ touchdown, and he missed. Badly. This came after the Rams punted deep in Titans territory instead of trying a 50-yard field goal. They wouldn’t have thought twice about trying it with Zuerlein, and it’s a good bet Zuerlein would have made it.
Ficken’s second attempt wasn’t any better. He rang a 35-yard field-goal attempt off the upright to start his NFL career 0-for-2.
The Rams are likely to go to the playoffs and many playoff games are decided by a big kick or two. It was a big blow to lose Zuerlein, who was as good as any kicker in the NFL this season, and it was risky to sign a kicker who had never tried an NFL kick and figure he’ll be fine for the playoffs. If Ficken’s first kick is an indication of his nerves, the Rams will have to keep exploring options as the postseason looms.
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