It was a rough weekend for kickers, and not just because Arizona’s Neil Rackers saw his streak of consecutive made field goals this season end at 31.
Around the league Sunday, special teamers were anything but special as kickers connected on just 42 of 57 kicks for a success rate of 73.7 percent. Last year’s league-wide success rate was 80.8 percent.
These weren’t exactly frivolous attempts either.
Jets rookie Mike Nugent was short on a 53-yarder in the final seconds of a two-point loss to the Saints. He had previously connected on a seasonhigh four kicks of 29, 45, 41 and 38 yards.
The Redskins’ John Hall missed a 52-yarder at the end of regulation of an overtime loss to the Chargers. In the same game, San Diego’s Nate Kaeding was just 1-of-3 but at least his team won.
The Buccaneers’ Matt Bryant missed a 29-yard attempt that would have sent his team’s three-point loss to the Bears into overtime.
The award for worst performance by a kicker in an NFL game — maybe not just this season but of all time — has to go to the Giants’ Jay Feely. The fifth-year pro carried a career 79.6 percent success rate into his team’s game against the Seahawks but failed to connect on not one, not two, but three would-be game-winners in an overtime loss.
He was wide left on a 40-yarder on the final play of regulation, then came up short on a 54-yarder and a 45-yarder in overtime. The Seahawks’ Josh Brown put Feely out of his misery by nailing a 36-yard attempt with 2:45 to play in overtime.
The toughest part of Feely’s day was likely filing into a visitors locker room packed with actual athletes who laid their bodies on the line for three hours and came away with nothing to show for it.
"People are going to say it’s a team game and they’re going to say the right things," Feely said afterward. "But the fact of the matter is that you’ve got to come through when you have one opportunity — much less two good opportunities."
AFC CONTENDERS DONE
Jacksonville and Kansas City both won Sunday to improve their records to 8-3 and 7-4, respectively, but I just don’t see either of those teams making the playoffs in the deep AFC.
The Jaguars lost starting quarterback Byron Leftwich to a broken ankle and will have to rely on unproven David Garrard for at least a month. Garrard will make just the fourth start of his fouryear career this week, though he will benefit by playing against just about as easy a schedule as one could draw up.
Aside from a home game against the Colts, the Jaguars face Cleveland, San Francisco, Houston and Tennessee over the final month of the season.
The Chiefs aren’t a bad team by any stretch of the imagination, but they have got a murderous schedule to navigate over the final five weeks of the season. They host Denver this week, then play at Dallas and at the New York Giants before returning home for games against San Diego and Cincinnati.
Those five teams have a combined record of 38 wins and 17 losses.
Neither Jacksonville nor Kansas City is likely to win its division (though the Chiefs could help their cause by beating the Broncos this week to pull back within a game), so they’ll find themselves competing with San Diego and either Pittsburgh or Cincinnati for two wild card berths.
• NFC East: The division’s top three teams (Dallas, New York and Washington) all lost this weekend, but at least they dragged their opponents into overtime. It was the first time in NFL history three teams from the same division lost in OT. Philadelphia took care of business against Green Bay and is now two games back.
• Patriots secondary: Over the last four weeks, the New England defense has given up 300 passing yards to Peyton Manning, Gus Frerotte, Aaron Brooks and Trent Green. Cornerbacks Asante Samuel and rookie Ellis Hobbs just aren’t going to get it done come January.
• ESPN: I know the television schedule is put together months before the season even begins, but Sunday night’s Saints-Jets matchup wasn’t worth the cost of electricity to power one’s TV for three hours.
• Ryan Fitzpatrick: Fight mighty Hawks, Oh fight for Highland High! Now with strength we spread our wings, we’re going to fly with pride. We are the Hawks so we fight with all our zeal. Stand up now for the black and teal, we’ll fight on for Highland High!
• Jeff Feagles: The Valley resident and former Cardinal broke Jim Marshall’s NFL record for consecutive appearances with a 39-yard punt for the Giants Sunday in his 283rd straight game. After the momentous kick, referee Larry Nemmers gave Feagles the ball, shook his hand and the two posed for a picture.
• Bears and Seahawks: The NFC’s top two squads extended their winning streaks to seven games each by vanquishing potential NFC playoff teams Tampa Bay and New York, respectively. If the playoffs began this week, the Bears
Division showdowns: This week’s games could go a long way in determining the champions of four divisions. The Cowboys visit the Giants (NFC East), the Bengals play at the Steelers (AFC North) and the Falcons travel to the Panthers (NFC South) in games between teams separated by a game or less in the division standings. Oh yeah, and the Broncos could pretty much wrap up the AFC West with a road win over the Chiefs, who trail by two games.
THE LAST WORD
"When we see teams cross that orange ‘C’ at midfield, guys start to look around and tell each other, ‘It’s time to make a play.’ That’s the real red zone for us. Then when they get down inside the 20, the hairs on the back of our necks stick up and we’re ready to get them out of there." — Bears defensive tackle and McClintock High graduate Tank Johnson, telling the Chicago Tribune about his team’s defense