In this day and age when kickers make 80 to 85 percent of their field-goal attempts, the chances of kickers missing a lot simply doesn’t happen — especially good kickers on fire, like David Akers and Dan Bailey.
Unless, apparently, they face the Cardinals.
The Cardinals’ ability to block field goals is well documented; their 11 blocks in the last four seasons (2008 through now) leads the NFL and they led the league both 2009 and 2010, as well as leading this year. But Cards’ opponents have missed five other field goals this season that were not blocked. That’s nine misses total — most in the league, although their percentage of 73.5 made against them is fourth in the league (many more attempts against the Cards; league-leading Philadelphia has seen only 12 of 18 field-goal attempts made against them for a 66.7 percent conversion rate).
Why all the misses? There isn’t a person in the Cards’ locker room that doesn’t believe it’s anything besides the knowledge the Cards are so good at blocking kicks. “It’s in the back of their minds,” 6-foot-8 kick blocker Calais Campbell said of opposing kickers. “There’s no question they are aware of it,” coach Ken Whisenhunt said. “When you know that’s coming, it’s got to affect you.”
The recent games against the 49ers and the Cowboys give the ultimate tangible evidence. Both San Francisco’s David Akers and Dallas’ Dan Bailey were virtually automatic heading into their games against Arizona. Akers had made 23-of-25 attempts on the season; then he got two blocked and missed a third against the Cards. Bailey had made 26 straight before missing two of four against the Cards.
More importantly, there is a sense when a key kick is coming now that it isn’t automatic — even Billy Cundiff’s game-winning boot in Baltimore had a sense of “maybe not” before the snap — which just infuses even more energy in that kick-blocking unit.
Tags: Calais Campbell, Ken Whisenhunt, special teams
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