Kickers are like toilets: You hardly notice them when they’re working but when they break down things get shitty in a hurry. And on Sunday kickers around the league broke down. How bad was it? Well, it was worse than the Browns’ strange decision to part ways with Josh Gordon due to a lack of “trust” after tolerating years of his off-field issues. And it was worse than Vontae Davis’s retirement which took place at halftime of a game that he was playing in. So, yeah, it was pretty bad.

Although this is probably still the headline of the week.

Two kickers had merely unfortunate days: With the Raiders playing a division rival in Denver, Raiders kicker Mike Nugent had an extra point blocked which would have been a disappointing but relatively uninspiring outcome save that Nugent’s team went on to lose by one, on a last-minute field goal, no less. (At least someone else is taking the blame for that blocked kick.) And earlier in the day, Packer’s kicker Mason Crosby1 booted what would have been a game-winning kick through the uprights as time expired only to have been iced just before the snap. He hooked the re-kick wide left and the Pack wound up settling for a tie.

Speaking of that tie, let’s turn our attention to one of the kickers who spent Sunday wishing they had played soccer instead. Green Bay’s opponent in futility was a Minnesota squad whose kicker, rookie Daniel Carlson, had an exceptionally terrible day. After missing his lone field goal attempt during regulation, the Vikings managed to get Carlson two attempts to win the game in overtime, including a 35-yarder as the extra session expired. Naturally, given that Sunday was the day from kicker hell, he missed them both. Badly. His final kick was the kind of miss that—actually let’s go live to Carlson as he contemplates his career outlook after shanking that one:

Yeah, that seems about right.

On Monday afternoon, Carlson was cut to make way for former Cowboy Dan Bailey. Yet somehow, on this most horrid day of NFL kicking, there was one poor soul who had an even worse day than Carlson. Zane Gonzalez started Sunday as a member of the Cleveland Browns, so things were already off to a rough start for him. It got worse. With his team on the verge of its first win in 631 days, Gonzalez was called upon to get his team easy points and, on four separate occasions, he failed in spectacular fashion. After leading for most of the game—despite Gonzalez’s having already missed a field goal and an extra point—the Browns surrendered their lead to the Saints late in the fourth quarter. Defying all recent precedent, the Browns managed to tie the game with 1:16 left when Tyrod Taylor threw a 47-yard bomb to Antonio Callaway on a fourth down shot. Considering that Cleveland’s athletic defense had stifled Drew Brees and the Saints offense all day, a simple extra point would have given Cleveland a lead that they could have been reasonably expected to hold. The Browns were going to win a game!

But they didn’t. Of course not.

Gonzalez pushed the extra point wide left then Drew Brees drove the Saints into field goal position so that their kicker, who is not cursed, could hit a field goal with 21 seconds left. The Saints were going to win. But wait! Miraculously, Taylor managed to get the Browns into field goal range using only two passes and 13 seconds. A 52-yard attempt from Gonzalez with eight seconds on the clock could have sent the game into overtime. It was, mercifully, a chance at redemption for a kicker who’d already left five points on the board in a game his team was losing by three. How’d that go?

Gonzalez’s game was so bad that the opposing kicker, Wil Lutz, could be seen consoling Gonzalez after the final whistle. His string of misses was so disastrous that they cost Gonzalez his job even though his awful performance may have been impacted by a lingering injury.

On such a calamitous day for kicking, it shouldn’t be surprising that even what passed for “good” kicking news—Rams punter Johnny Hekker successfully converted both an extra point and a field goal!—only came about because of the rare occurrence of a kicker injury. It was not a good week to be an NFL kicker, is the gist of things. And here’s hoping that, by next week, kickers around the league have flushed Sunday’s performances down the drain.

  1. Who, in fairness, did successfully make five field goals.

Brennan Quenneville is an editor and contributor at The Read Option. He can also be found at his blog and at Type In Stereo, where he is a contributor.

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