Sunday was a banner day for NFL kickers, if by banner, we mean deeply, deeply discouraging.
Even before we reached the second quarter of Sunday’s late-afternoon games, kickers already set a new standard for ineptitude, breaking the NFL’s single-day record for missed extra points with 11. Washington Redskins kicker Dustin Hopkins made it an even dozen with a failed attempt in the fourth quarter of Sunday night’s 42-24 victory against the Green Bay Packers. It was a real kick in the pants.
If anything, the NFL’s decision to move extra points back from the two-yard line to the 15 last season has made the game more gut-wrenching, since what was once a chip shot is now anything but a guarantee. In all, 10 kickers missed at least one 32-yard attempt on Sunday — and two failed on a pair.
But which one of the dirty dozen mattered most? The only thing that could make kickers feel worse about missing 12 extra points is ranking them in order of importance, so we decided to do just that …
11 and 12: Detroit Lions 26, Jacksonville Jaguars 19.
Lions kicker Matt Prater and Jaguars foe Jason Myers had the good fortune of canceling out each other’s failures, since Myers followed Prater’s blocked extra point early in the second quarter with a miss later in the frame. The end result was the same seven-point margin had they been successful.
10: Pittsburgh Steelers 24, Cleveland Browns 9.
At this point, none of Browns kicker Cody Parkey’s attempts are of much consequence. Still, his missed extra point with 9:45 remaining in the fourth quarter should have cut Pittsburgh’s lead to 17-10. We never did find out whether Parkey’s miss had much meaning, since the Browns fumbled away their final attempt to even the score in the final minutes and kept their winless season alive.
9: Seattle Seahawks 26, Philadelphia Eagles 15.
Seahawks kicker Steven Hauschka had his first extra point blocked early in the opening quarter, and while the Eagles responded by taking a brief 7-6 lead, Seattle built an insurmountable 26-7 advantage that made even Hauschka’s missed 44-yard field goal attempt in the fourth quarter a moot non-point.
8: New England Patriots 30, San Francisco 49ers.
Only the Carolina Panthers have missed more extra points this season than the Patriots, and this comes after Stephen Gostkowski made an NFL-record 523 consecutive extra points. So, while his miss on New England’s first touchdown drive was further embarrassment, it wasnt too impactful, since the Patriots held at least a two-score lead for the majority of Sunday’s victory against the 49ers.
7: Washington Redskins 42, Green Bay Packers 24.
Maybe Redskins coach Jay Gruden saw how the afternoon games played out, since he started Sunday night’s game by attempting two-point conversions on his team’s second and third touchdowns. Both attempts failed, leaving Washington with a 22-17 edge early in the fourth quarter. Gruden went back to kicker Dustin Hopkins for the Redskins’ next score, and that failed, too, making what should’ve been a two-TD lead an 11-point edge with 3:54 remaining. That’s no small difference against Aaron Rodgers, but Hopkins redeemed himself when his extra point on another Washington touchdown with 2:26 left gave the Redskins a lead no amount of missed extra points could have possibly given back.
6: Minnesota Vikings 30, Arizona Cardinals 24.
Arizona’s block of Minnesota kicker Kai Forbath’s extra point midway through the second quarter might have been disastrous had the Cardinals’ final drive not ended in their own territory with 44 seconds remaining in a six-point game. But the way things were going on Sunday, who’s to say Arizona kicker Chandler Catanzaro would have made a game-winning extra point even if he had the chance.
5, 4 and 3: New York Giants 22, Chicago Bears 16.
This was more a comedy of errors than a series of meaningful missed extra points. First, Bears kicker Connor Barth missed his extra point on Chicago’s opening-drive touchdown. Then, Giants kicker Robbie Gould did Barth one better, answering that miss with one of his own on a game-tying TD in the first quarter, and then doubling his errant efforts on a third-quarter miss that left the G-Men leading, 22-16. Chicago had plenty of efforts to make their former kicker pay, but the score never changed, and that’s probably for the better, if only because nobody watching had to see another missed kick.
2 and 1: Buffalo Bills 16, Cincinnati Bengals 12.
Bengals kicker Mike Nugent’s first missed extra point should have tied the game at seven apiece late in the first quarter, and his second miss meant his team took a two-point lead into the half instead of a 14-10 advantage. So, after a couple second-half field goals gave the Bills a late 16-12 edge, Cincinnati needed a touchdown instead of a field goal with first-and-10 from the Buffalo 27-yard line and three seconds remaining in the game. Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton’s last-second throw couldn’t find wide receiver James Wright in the end zone. A 44-yard field goal attempt obviously would have been no guarantee for Nugent, either, but at least he would have had the chance to be the hero.
So, good luck not choking on Monday night to Oakland Raiders kicker Sebastian Janikowski and Houston Texans counterpart Nick Novak, who will hope not to put on an encore in Mexico City, where at least one expert believes NFL players will have difficulty breathing throughout the game.
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