Kickers in many ways have a thankless job. Make a kick, and often times nobody really cares. Miss one? Well, people won't stop bringing it up.
The 2021 season has already established a new high-water mark in kicking with Ravens kicker Justin Tucker's NFL record-setting 66-yard field goal to beat the Lions in Week 3. Two weeks later, though, we might have established a new low point.
Prior to kickoff on Sunday Night Football between the Bills and Chiefs, kickers had missed a whopping 12 extra points in Week 5. That ties the league's Super Bowl era record set in Week 11 during the 2016 season, the year after the NFL moved PAT's back to the 15-yard line.
Rams kicker Matt Gay got the train rolling on Thursday when he missed his first PAT attempt of the game in the third quarter. That set a strong tone for Sunday, when the kicking woes weren't just limited to PATs.
The Browns-Packers game turned into the stuff of kickers' nightmares, with Green Bay's Mason Crosby and Cincinnati's Evan McPherson combining to miss five go-ahead or game-winning field goals in the final minutes of regulation and overtime. Crosby also missed a PAT of his own earlier in the game, though he did make the eventual game-winning 49-yard kick in OT.
The Chargers have had as many kicking woes as any team in recent years, so of course, they were involved in the festivities on Sunday as well. Tristan Vizcaino missed two of his five PAT attempts, the latter of which would have tied the game with 3:15 remaining. This story has a happy ending, though, as the Chargers rallied to beat the Browns, 47-42, though Vizcaino did not get another PAT or field goal attempt.
The late, great former coach Buddy Ryan once famously said, "Kickers are like taxi cabs. You can always go out and hire another one." That's probably a disservice to the difficulty kickers have at successfully doing their jobs, though after Sunday's performance, there might be more than a few head coaches who put that maxim to the test.
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