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Bleacher Report – Vikings

A brief history of kickers after a costly playoff miss

By Andrew Krammer

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In the wake of Blair Walsh’s 27-yard addition to the Vikings’ playoff infamy, he and those around him will field questions about confidence. And it’s fair to wonder how he’ll mentally rebound after a costly and jarring miss.

The Vikings have supported Walsh publicly and continue their theme of confidence, inked on a four-year extension last training camp and voiced again by general manager Rick Spielman in February: “Blair Walsh is our kicker.” Lost after Walsh’s memorable gaffe was an in-season field goal percentage that was his best (87.2%) since his Pro Bowl rookie season in 2012. Though when it mattered most, he missed his first career attempt inside 30 yards (that wasn’t blocked) with just 26 seconds left in the VIkings’ 10-9 playoff loss to the Seattle Seahawks.

He wasn’t going to be released, so Walsh already has a good start compared to some fellow NFL kickers who whiffed in playoff moments. Many of the lasting misses included some of the game’s greats, including Mike Vanderjagt and Nate Kaeding, who rank fifth and sixth respectively on the all-time accuracy list. Though after playoff misses, neither would remain effective for very long as Vanderjagt aged and injuries cut down Kaeding’s career. A quick look at some of the biggest misses showed Walsh is the youngest among the infamous, and the path before him was rough for some others, many on the back end of their careers.

Mike Vanderjagt, 2006 AFC Divisional Round

After a fourth-quarter comeback, the Indianapolis Colts trailed 21-18 to the Pittsburgh Steelers. In the closing minutes, Nick Harper scooped up a Jerome Bettis fumble and set up Vanderjagt for a 46-yard attempt. He would miss wide right with 21 seconds left as the last kick he ever attempted for the Colts. Vanderjagt signed on with the Dallas Cowboys in 2006 and made a career-low 72.2 percent of his field goal attempts in his final season.

Nate Kaeding, 2010 AFC Divisional Round

Kaeding, a strong regular season kicker, struggled mightily in the playoffs throughout his career. And it was all capped by a 2010 home divisional playoff against the New York Jets. Kaeding would miss all three field goal attempts — 36, 57 and 40 yards — in the Chargers’ 17-14 loss. His accuracy slipped the following season before injuries forced him to retire. He finished with an 86.2 percent conversion rate in the regular season, compared to 53.3 percent in the playoffs.

David Akers, 2011 NFC Wild-Card Round

Akers missed two field goals in the Philadelphia Eagles’ five-point loss to the eventual Super Bowl-champion Green Bay Packers. He missed the first, a 41-yarder, on the Eagles’ opening drive and the second, from 34 yards away, as they trailed 21-10 in the fourth quarter. That would be the end of his time in Philadelphia. He had one strong season in San Francisco before his career ended.

Doug Brien, 2005 AFC Divisional Round

Brien also missed two field goals, except both were potential game-winning attempts in the final two minutes. The New York Jets would lose 20-17 in overtime to the Pittsburgh Steelers after Brien missed a go-ahead, 47-yard attempt with 1:48 remaining. After an interception, he missed a 43-yard try on the final play of regulation.

Gary Anderson, 1999 NFC Championship

He hadn’t missed all season. After his 38-yard miss that would’ve put the game out of reach from the Atlanta Falcons, Anderson stayed four more seasons in Minnesota. He couldn’t recapture the perfection of his 1998 regular season at the end of a long career.

Billy Cundiff, 2012 AFC Championship

Trailing 23-20 to the New England Patriots in the closing seconds, Cundiff sent a 32-yard attempt wide left and the Baltimore Ravens into a loss. Like others before him, his game-losing miss was his last for the franchise. Since, Cundiff put together two decent seasons in Cleveland and is a free agent. His last field goal came in 2014.

Scott Norwood, Super Bowl 25

The most impactful of them all, the Buffalo Bills lost the first of four Super Bowls when Norwood sailed a 47-yard attempt wide right with eight seconds to play. The New York Giants won 20-19. Norwood would convert a career-low 62.1 percent of his field goals the following season, which ended up being his last.

The post A brief history of kickers after a costly playoff miss appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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