Week Five, Break a Leg!

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Issue 5, Volume 112

By Efe Kilic 

For many, Sunday is a religious day. Those who practice their beliefs pray for good fortune, wealth, and their kickers to hit an extra point. Week five was a historic one for kickers: Baltimore Ravens kicker Justin Tucker hit the walk off game-winning record 66-yard field goal to secure the victory for the Ravens. Ever since, kickers all around the league have been revisited by the curse of Blair Walsh, a term coined for ex-Minnesota Vikings kicker Walsh, who was known for missing a crucial field goal in the closing seconds of a 2016 wildcard game against the Seattle Seahawks.

Kickers are crucial to the game and must be protected, but some mistakes are too large to go unnoticed. In week five, kickers baked themselves up a dozen missed extra points, complemented by a dozen missed field goals. Week five was surprisingly decent for the Vikings, however, as they finally found themselves able to hit a game-winning field goal. The same did not apply to the rest of the NFL, as rookies, not veterans, were safe. This pattern was perfectly portrayed in the historic recent faceoff between the Cincinnati Bengals and Green Bay Packers.

The matchup featured rookie Bengals kicker Evan McPherson and 37-year-old veteran Packers kicker Mason Crosby in an intense shootout… of blanks. Combined, the kickers missed five total field goals, and these were not any trivial opportunities. McPherson missed the game-winner for Cincinnati during regulation, forcing overtime with the Packers winning the toss. In overtime, the Bengals held the Packers to a field goal attempt, which Crosby missed. Only a few plays later, the Bengals kicker got a chance to end the game in overtime with a 49-yard field goal, which bounced right off the uprights. Upon the third overtime possession, Crosby finally hit a 49-yard kick to end the game and hand the Bengals a loss at home.

This entire sequence was a true nail-biter, but a ridiculous one nonetheless. The failure to hit extra points was historically horrendous, as it was the most missed field goals in a single week across the league since 2015. This feat is an embarrassing, yet amazing accomplishment, as it is appalling to witness the different aerodynamic qualities the balls discovered to escape the bounds of the uprights. Thankfully, kickers were able to get their act together and not fall victim to “the wind,” though many NFL fans surely wanted to suit up and run onto the field to kick for their teams at one point or another.

Kickers, though seemingly unathletic and replaceable, play a pivotal role in the game. Other than the fact that they are always the leading scorers in the NFL, kickers have the ability to make or break games. Former Patriots kicker Adam Vinatieri secured two Super Bowl wins with walk-off field goals for his team. On the other end of the scale, kickers have also lost important games for their teams, such as when Cody Parkey missed in the 2018 NFC wildcard against the Philadelphia Eagles. Though kickers are crucial to football and should be recognized for their success, there is no excuse for what happened week five other than misfortune and the spirit of Walsh in the legs of all kickers.