The San Diego Chargers faced the New York Jets today in the second round of the playoffs. A game in which the Chargers looked like the superior team through the greater portion. Unfortunately, three straight times in this game, the Chargers drove into scoring position only to come up empty. That was because their All-Pro and Pro Bowl kicker, Nate Kaeding, missed THREE STRAIGHT field goals.
The Chargers would lose the game by a score of 17-14 and are out of the playoffs-- winless. You think those field goals might have come in handy? Or how about even one of them? The 33 yarder he shanked would have at least sent the game into overtime. The 40 yarder he pushed wide could have won it. And the 57 yarder he kicked FIVE YARDS SHORT might have actually made you think he was a worthy Pro Bowler. But missing all of them proves without a doubt that he was undeserving of any such honor.
It was bad enough when the voters chose Kaeding over Sebastian Janikowski for the AFC Pro Bowl roster. Especially considering Janikowski had far superior numbers is every meaningful statistical category. But I suppose it is understandable considering most voters choose Pro Bowlers as if they are choosing a fantasy team.
When I say "meaningful" statistical category, I am speaking of every statistic outside of total number of field goals because a kicker's field goal total is the one stat that is completely out of his control. That number is purely a byproduct of the offense he was lucky enough to play with.
When the Pro Bowl roster was announced late in the season, I pointed out that Janikowski and Kaeding both had the same number of misses on the season(3) despite Kaeding having 15 more field goals inside of 30 yards and Janikowski not missing a single field goal inside 45 yards. I also pointed out that Janikowski's 6 successful field goals over 50 yards was most in the league and twice that of Kaeding (3). Let me also remind you that one of Janikowski's misses was a rushed, last second 66 yard attempt. The equivelant of an NBA 3/4 court shot at the buzzer-- only much more difficult.
It is also worth noting that Janikowski had 17 touchbacks to Kaeding's 9. Factor in the number of kickoffs being heavily in favor of Kaeding with 97 kickoffs and it gives Kaeding a touchback percentage of just 9.3%. Compare that to Janikowski's 58 kickoffs and a pecentage of 29.3 and you have a laughably lopsided victory for Seabass.
The only excuse for the Pro Bowl oversight was the fact that Janikowski didn't hit his historic 61 yard field goal until after the Pro Bowl ballots were turned in. Well, that and the fact that voters typically just vote for the highest scorer or their favorite team. But after such a feat, combined with Janikowski's overall numbers, there was absolutely no excuse for the AP voting committee not to name Janikowski an All-Pro for the first time in his career.
Peter King of SI.com agrees. He has Sebastian Janikowski as his First Team All-Pro choice.
And the fact that Nate Kaeding just missed as many field goals in ONE GAME as Sebastian Janikowski had missed ALL SEASON (including that 66 yard nonsense) means the AP All-Pro panel has some serious proverbial egg on their faces right about now.
But I suppose All-Pro bids and field goals are pretty similar in one respect:
There's nothing quite like missing the ones that really count.