Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Pro Bowl Watch: Nate Kaeding
By Bill Williamson
(UPDATE: After injuring himself in Wednesday's practice, Kaeding has withdrawn from the Pro Bowl. Kaeding suffered a small tear in his groin and will be replaced by Miami kicker Dan Carpenter.)
Perhaps other than Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson, there will be no other player at the Pro Bowl on Sunday in Miami with a more bitter taste in his mouth than San Diego kicker Nate Kaeding.
The fact that the Pro Bowl will be played in the very same place Kaeding wanted to be the next Sunday -- at the Super Bowl -- will only make the experience more depressing for Kaeding.
Like Peterson’s fumble issues in the Vikings’ NFC Championship Game loss at New Orleans, Kaeding hurt his team in the playoffs. Kaeding missed three field goals -- two inside 40 yards -- in a 17-14 home loss to the New York Jets in the AFC divisional playoff round Jan. 17. San Diego was the No. 2 seed in the AFC and entered the playoffs with 11 straight victories.
Kaeding missed a total of three field goals during the regular season. That is why he was not only named to to the Pro Bowl, but was also named but a first-team All-Pro player. He was fantastic all season, and then failed in the playoffs. He is now 3-of-9 in the postseason at home. He cost the Chargers a playoff game against the Jets in 2004 during his rookie season.
Of course, he wasn’t the only reason why San Diego lost to the Jets, but if he was his usual self, San Diego would have won the game.
Kaeding will definitely be thinking about his playoff woes when he lines up for a field goal in the Pro Bowl. That’s just human nature. He’s sure to be jittery.
Ultimately it may be good for Kaeding to kick in a game situation so soon after his playoff misery. It will give him a chance to make a field goal and get in a good mental frame of mind, instead of waiting more than seven months for another opportunity.