In their second game against the Buccaneers, something happened that has become a semi-regular occurrence during the Saints’ 2018 season.
Former Tulane kicker, Cairo Santos, missed two field goals, one from 46 and one from 40 yards. True, Santos has only hit 71.9% of his career field goals between 40 and 49 yards. But you have to admit, when it comes to kicking against the Saints this year, no kick from any distance is a gimme.
The trend started, back in September, in week two against the Cleveland Browns. Second year kicker Zane Gonzalez, the NCAA record holder for career points by a kicker and Lou Groza Award winner, missed two extra points and two field goals.
During the fourth quarter, Gonzalez missed an extra point that would have given the Browns the lead with 1:16 left to play. Will Lutz made a 44 yarder after the Saints marched down the field, then Gonzalez missed a 52 yarder to send the game into overtime. The Saints barely won and the Browns gave Gonzalez his pink slip the very next day.
In October, against the Ravens, kicker misfortune struck again. After never missing an extra point since high school and making 222 of 222 of his first career extra points in the NFL, two time All-Pro kicker Justin Tucker did just that while handing the Saints another razor thin victory.
With a 90.5% career field goal percentage, Tucker is officially the most accurate kicker in NFL history. His 97.2% extra point conversion rate made this extremely rare miss even more shocking, especially since Tucker is still enjoying his second best season of his career at a cool 92.9% field goal conversion rate for the year.
Perhaps there were no words for his freak miss that encapsulated the moment better than his expression following his first professional missed extra point.
Justin Tucker can't believe Justin Tucker missed a potential game-tying XP pic.twitter.com/1wuX1W9vql— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) October 21, 2018
Of course it doesn’t help when the announcer lays out the old broadcaster curse.
The announcer just jinxed the hell out of Justin Tucker! #NOvsBAL pic.twitter.com/U7gA3L25kI— History of Sports (@BeforeFamePics) October 21, 2018
The Saints won both of those games with the help of their opponents’ kicking performances. Those two wins could prove to be major factors in the Saints’ final playoff seeding. But the bad kicking juju didn’t end there.
In November, Los Angeles Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein missed a 51 yard field goal wide right. Zuerlein doesn’t have an amazing history kicking from 50+ yards (58.7% career from 50+), but the play became a 10 point swing as the Saints then used the short field to march towards a touchdown and extend their second quarter lead to two scores. It was a momentum shifting miss for sure.
So far the Saints’ list of kicking victims in 2018 includes Gonzalez, Tucker, Zuerlein, and Santos. Two more solid veteran kickers in Carolina’s Graham Gano and Pittsburgh’s Chris Boswell will face the Saints in the coming three weeks. Both boast career field goal percentages in the low to mid 80’s and career extra point percentages in the mid 90’s.
Yet something has me thinking one or both of them is going to miss one when it might matter most. Fingers crossed.