Jets working wicked kicker voodoo


FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The wackiest stat from this year's playoffs is that New York Jets opponents have missed all five of their field goal attempts.

San Diego Chargers kicker Nate Kaeding, who made 91 percent of his kicks in the regular season, missed from 36, 57 and 40 yards in Sunday's three-point home loss to the Jets. He had made 69 consecutive attempts from 40 yards and closer.

Cincinnati Bengals kicker Shayne Graham made 82 percent of his tries. He missed from 35 and 28 yards -- the latter coming with 3:49 to play and the Bengals hoping to set up an onsides kick -- in a 21-14 first-round loss.

None have been blocked.

So what gives?

The Elias Sports Bureau found the last team to benefit from five missed field goals in an entire postseason was the 1983 San Francisco 49ers. FootballOutsiders.com noted the last time opposing kickers blew five in a row against the same team -- regular season or playoffs -- was in 2001.

Jets special-teams coordinator Mike Westhoff ventured an explanation for his team's good fortune.

"What we've done, our guys really rush hard," Westhoff said. "It's an extension of our defense. We rush hard every single time. I thought the first kick last week that Bryan Thomas was going to block it. He swam around the guy and came right in and the ball just barely missed his hand.

"I know one thing. If you watch our tape, week after week, like all teams do, you know you're just going to get hit every time. Mike DeVito knocks somebody back every time. We don't always get there, but we pressure them.

"Subconsciously, you watch it and go 'Wait a minute. I don't have all day.' I think -- and this is my opinion; I could be wrong -- it affects sometimes a rhythm where [the kickers] are a little bit quicker than what they'd normally be."

ESPN.com senior writer Jeffri Chadiha took a look at the kicking crucible of the postseason. Chadiha's in-depth feature examined the factors that contribute to more misses than in the regular season.

Psychology is paramount. Winter weather can be a problem. Field goals have an added importance in the postseason because the games are more competitive and coaches are more willing to play field-position "small-ball."

Could the string of wide lefts, wide rights and fell shorts affect Indianapolis Colts kicker Matt Stover in the AFC Championship Game?

"I don't know that you can point to one thing," Jets kicker Jay Feely said. "It was unfortunate for those guys, lucky for us. You feel for them because I've been in that situation before. But as a kicker you try and go out and not think of the implications of what you're doing and discipline your mind to not let it wander when you're in those pressure moments."