The pressure-cooker of the NFL's first week seemed to have gotten to a bunch of place kickers in the league, as a number of them had misses that cost their team a loss, some of them from embarrassingly bad distances.
In fact, the only team that lost by three or less this week that didn't miss a field goal or extra point was the Dallas Cowboys, whose kicker Dan Bailey was 4-for-4 on field goals.
Several kickers with the chance to win the game on the last meaningful play shanked the kick.
Certainly three of them at least have the defense of missing kicks of 50 or more yards, which you can't exactly pull off in your sleep.
It all started with Carolina Panthers kicker Graham Gano, who missed a 50-yarder wide left with seconds remaining to hand the Denver Broncos their big title-defending home win. While a 50-yard field goal is no chip shot, it's a lot easier in Denver. Gano hit a 50-yarder just seconds before the miss, but that was negated by a Broncos timeout to ice the kicker. Gano was officially iced.
The San Diego Chargers would have won their game in regulation had their second-year kicker, Josh Lambo, not missed a 54-yarder early in the fourth quarter in Kansas City. The Chargers were up by 17, 27-10, at the time of the miss, but it came back to bite the Bolts. This is the most excusable miss of the week as it would have matched Lambo's career-long. Still, another costly miss.
New Orleans Saints kicker Wil Lutz missed a pair of field goals -- one from 50 yards and one from 61 yards -- that doomed the Saints against an inspired Oakland Raiders team. Lutz's misses didn't just come inside the perfect conditions of a dome, but they were at home. If you're a kicker in the NFL and your team lines you up for field goals of these distances, you've got to hit at least one of them.
None of that was as bad as the New York Jets kicker Nick Folk's miss on an extra point and another miss of a 22-yard field goal, which was blocked. Every kicker misses an attempt in the 20-to-30-yard range at some point. But two in one game? And your team loses by one to the Cincinnati Bengals? Brutal.
Seattle Seahawks kicker Stephen Houshka missed on an extra point on Sunday, as well, but he was bailed out of a game-deciding disaster by Miami Dolphins kicker Andrew Franks, whose 27-yard field goal (shorter than an extra point attempt) was blocked early in the fourth quarter. The Dolphins lost by two points.
Then of course there was the Chandler Catanzaro 47-yard miss on Sunday Night Football that sent the Arizona Cardinals to an embarrassing home loss at the hands of the New England Patriots. While lots of people point to the bad snap as the cause -- and that's certainly part of it -- the holder, Drew Butler, did a great job of getting the ball down in what certainly seemed to be the right spot for Catanzaro. Certainly that bad snap caused a trigger in Catanzaro's head that may have resulted in a last-millisecond tweak of his approach. Either way, he missed the kick.
Seven games that came down to three or fewer points in regulation, six of them lost by a team whose kicker missed a field goal or an extra point. What do they have in common? Four of them have been in the league for two or fewer seasons.
Youth may be cheaper, but losses can be very expensive.