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Ranking the 3 worst performances by NFL kickers in a disastrous Week 2

NFL kickers turned into college kickers this weekend.

Cleveland Browns v New Orleans Saints Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

NFL kickers were struggling in high-profile situations during Week 2 — except for Broncos veteran Brandon McManus, that is. Whether they were routine extra points or game-altering field goals, there were kicks that made a big difference on Sunday.

For the day, NFL kickers went 39 of 51 on field goal attempts and 62 of 69 on extra points. But there were a handful of poor kicking performances that stood out from the rest.

Let’s take a look at the three worst.

1: Zane Gonzalez might have played himself out of a job

After Zane Gonzalez’s blocked field goal led to the Browns’ tie against the Steelers last week, he needed a strong rebound to justify a roster spot.

Well, that didn’t quite happen against the Saints. Gonzalez missed two of his four attempts and both of his extra point attempts. In a 21-18 loss, those misses all ended up mattering. But the final two were the most costly for a Browns team searching for its first win in 21 months.

With less than two minutes left, Tyrod Taylor hit Antonio Callaway for a long touchdown to tie the game at 18-all. An extra point would’ve put the Browns ahead and perhaps giving them a boost, but Gonzalez’s kick went wide left.

The Saints retook the lead with a field goal, but Taylor and Callaway got the Browns in field goal range in the waning seconds of the game. That gave Gonzalez a chance to send the game to overtime — and a chance for redemption. Instead:

Perhaps Gonzalez will get another chance to prove that he belongs in the NFL, but it won’t be with the Browns, who signed a new kicker the next day:

Then came the news that Gonzalez has been playing with an injury that likely affected his kicks:

Saints kicker Wil Lutz missed a field goal try too, but he hit what wound up being the game-winner. He also had a comforting postgame message for Gonzalez.

2: The Vikings missed a game-winning field goal ... twice

Vikings rookie kicker Daniel Carlson caught the college kicker bug (or still has it) by missing all three of his field goal attempts in their tie with the Green Bay Packers. One of the kicks was a 49-yard try on the Vikings’ first drive in overtime, which would have given his team the lead and potentially the win. The second one he missed in overtime was a 35-yarder as time expired:

The Vikings traded up to select Carlson in the fifth round of the 2018 NFL Draft. Trading up for kickers always looks a little bit silly, but even more so when said kicker struggles out the gate. After missing three field goal attempts the Packers, Carlson has hit one of his four field goal attempts on the season.

“And in practice every day, he drills them,” Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer said after the game. “So that’s the disappointing thing to me.”

Carlson’s teammates were supportive, but this had to bring uncomfortable memories for Vikings fans, who have had a terrible experience with kicking — though that’s usually reserved for the playoffs.

On Monday, they waived Carlson and signed former Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey:

3: Chris Boswell missed a field goal and an extra point

Pittsburgh’s Chris Boswell has been one of the more reliable kickers in the league, so it was a bit surprising to see him miss against the Chiefs. Even though the Steelers lost by five points, the four points that Boswell left on the field ended up being huge.

When the Steelers scored their final touchdown of the game, the score was 42-36. At this point in the game, Boswell had already missed the field goal and extra point attempt. If they had those points, the score would’ve been 42-40 and the Steelers could’ve attempted a two-point conversion to tie the game. Instead, they had to settle for a meaningless extra point attempt that made the score 42-37, which was the final.

Boswell has now missed both of his field goal kicks on the season — including one that would’ve given the Steelers a win over the Browns in their tie last week. This has to be a little disheartening for him and the team considering he signed a five-year contract extension this offseason. His job isn’t in trouble, but he still needs to play better to validate that investment.

Honorable mentions

Ryan Fitzpatrick going absolutely bonkers again was the story of the Buccaneers and Eagles game, but they also had their own bad luck with kickers. Tampa Bay kicker Chandler Catanzaro missed an extra point and Philadelphia’s Jake Elliott missed a field goal too. Tampa Bay and kickers just don’t seem to go together — they haven’t had much luck there over the previous years.

There was even more kicker weirdness around the league outside of those teams:

  • Packers kicker Mason Crosby missed a 52-yard field goal he previously made after Mike Zimmer iced him with a timeout.
  • Ka’imi Fairbairn had a missed field goal for the Texans in a game that they lost by three points.
  • Raiders kicker Mike Nugent had an extra point blocked in a one-point loss to the Broncos.
  • The Los Angeles Rams had to resort to punter Johnny Hekker kicking a field goal today after Greg Zuerlein suffered an injury.

The Rams went three-for-three on their two-point conversions, but at least they were able to rely on Hekker for the one extra point they attempted and to convert a chip-shot field goal. However, with Zuerlein out, the Rams needed to to dip into free agency to find a guy. They brought back Sam Ficken, who filled in for an injured Zuerlein at the end of last season.

Kickers are among the most easily replaceable roster pieces in the game. Cleveland and Minnesota already made a change at kicker this week, and the Rams needed to sign a new one due to injury.

Luckily, there are a handful of decent options out there waiting to be signed.

Given the tumultuous play by kickers, that might not be the last shuffles at the position we see this week, or even this season. Unemployed kickers, keep that phone ready.