Something magical happened in the Rams upset of the Cardinals. Something that no other game this week could claim.
Neither side missed a kick.
Whether it was a field goal or an extra point, a hook or a block, every other game this week has featured a missed kick and it makes the game uglier- and more interesting.
The Patriots locked up kicker Stephen Gostkowski to a long term extension prior to the season and he's been one of the best kickers in NFL history. New England didn't play this week, but every witnessed the worst day of kicking in the past decade of football.
That isn't an exaggeration.
Here are the odds a kicker will make a FG based upon line of scrimmage. pic.twitter.com/qyRt0V5QVc— Rich Hill (@PP_Rich_Hill) October 5, 2015
These are the odds that a kicker will convert a field goal attempt, based upon the line of scrimmage, and it's pretty straight forward: someone kicking from the 1 yard line will have a much greater chance of converting than someone kicking from midfield.
We can look up all of the failed kicks from this week and determine the odds the team should have converted. A missed extra point from the 15-yard line should have a 91.1% conversion rate, so a miss counts as 0.911 of a miss. A field goal from the 35-yard line only has a 52.1% conversion rate, so a miss will count as 0.521 of a miss. We can sum up the scores to really value the missed field goals.
With four missed extra points and four additional missed kicks inside the 15-yard line, this week (with one game to go) is a surefire bet to be one of the worst in memory. Pro Football Reference's game play database goes through 1994, so we're looking at roughly 20 seasons of missed kicks.
|11/29/2001 - 12/5/2001||17.67|
|11/28/2002 - 12/4/2002||16.74|
|9/14/2000 - 9/20/2000||16.70|
|11/25/2004 - 12/1/2004||16.34|
|11/21/2002 - 11/27/2002||15.54|
|12/6/2001 - 12/12/2001||15.22|
|10/1/2015 - 10/6/2015||15.19|
|11/1/2001 - 11/7/2001||15.04|
|12/17/1998 - 12/23/1998||15.03|
|12/20/2001 - 12/26/2001||14.84|
|11/10/2011 - 11/16/2011||14.72|
|12/5/2002 - 12/11/2002||14.68|
|11/14/2002 - 11/20/2002||14.31|
|10/17/2002 - 10/23/2002||14.13|
|11/27/2003 - 12/3/2003||13.86|
This week has been the 7th worst week of kicking in the past 20 years and the worst in the past decade. Of these bottom 15 weeks, the only other week from the past decade is Week 10 from 2011.
By moving the extra point line back from the 2-yard line to the 15-, the NFL was expecting the kickers to miss more often, but they weren't expecting it to affect their field goal rate. The league was likely hoping the new extra point line would lead to more exciting two-point conversions, instead of more cringe-inducing extra point misses.
Former NFL kicker Jay Feely believes that extra points were essentially "in game practice" and now that the pressure is greater on extra points, kickers will be less comfortable in all of their duties. It's a reasonable thought, although the notion that a player should have "in game practice" is one that shouldn't play a role.
Time will change all as kickers just get better, and better, and better. But with one game to go, Week 4 of the 2015 season has an outside chance of contending for the title of "Worst Kicking Week in NFL History."