The 10 Biggest Missed Kicks in Super Bowl History

Adam LazarusSenior Analyst IJanuary 23, 2012

The 10 Biggest Missed Kicks in Super Bowl History

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    Sunday in Gillette Stadium, Billy Cundiff missed a 32-yard game-tying field goal that would have sent the Baltimore Ravens and New England Patriots to overtime, where the winner earned a spot in the Super Bowl. 

    Although making that field goal wouldn't have guaranteed the Ravens a berth in Super Bowl XLVI, it will no doubt be considered the greatest miss in team history and another scarlet letter for the kickers.

    But at least Cundiff's miss didn't come on the truly biggest stage imaginable: the Super Bowl. 

    Throughout its 45 years there have been some epic and infamous shanks, pushes and short kicks that were memorable for one reason or another. Here is a top 10.

    NOTE: "Missed kicks" include blocks and isn't necessarily limited to field goal or extra point attempts. 

No. 10: John Kasay's Kickoff Nightmare

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    Super Bowl: XXXVIII

    Situation: 29-29 tie, 1:08 remaining, 4th quarter

    Miss: Kickoff, out of bounds

    As stated in the introduction slide, "missed kicks" aren't always field goal attempts. In fact, they aren't always for points. And perhaps the most untimely kickoff mistake in NFL history came at the end of that classic Patriots-Panthers Super Bowl in Houston.

    With less than 70 seconds remaining, the underdog and scrappy Panthers tied the mighty Pats via a Jake Delhomme touchdown pass to Ricky Proehl. 

    Given what emerging superstar Tom Brady had done at the end of the Super Bowl just two years earlier—guiding his offense downfield in the final two minutes for the game winning field goal over to upset the Rams—New England didn't need any help. Kasay gave it to them anyway.

    On the kickoff following Delhomme's touchdown pass, Kasay sliced the ball way right and out of bounds, resulting in a penalty that gave Brady the ball at the 40. The Pats only needed 37 yards for Adam Vinatieri to nail the game-winner. 

No. 9: Lou Michaels Adds to Jets' Confidence

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    Super Bowl: III

    Situation: 0-0, 5:33 remaining, 1st quarter

    Miss: 27-yard field goal

    Granted it's strange to put a missed field goal early in the first quarter of a tie game on this list, but these were special circumstances.

    The 18-point underdog Jets were forced to punt on the game's first series, gave the ball to the awesome Colts offense, which proceeded to march 54 yards. The drive stalled, but they were still in position for an easy field goal that would give Baltimore the lead. Michaels, however, missed the chip shot spoiling a chance to start putting the lesser AFL team in its place.

    You know the rest, the Jets went on to win the most important game in Super Bowl history. 

    Maybe the Jets would have won even if Michaels nailed the easy field goal. But escaping the first series—in which the Colts easily marched into the red zone—without allowing any points had to instill confidence in the underdog bunch.....and begin to validate Joe Namath's boasting. 

No. 8: Mike Mercer and the 1st Super Bowl Miss

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    Super Bowl: I

    Situation: Chiefs trailing Packers 7-0, 34 seconds remaining, 1st quarter

    Miss: 40-yard field goal

    Like the Jets-Colts Super Bowl two years later, it's tough to imply that the outcome would have been totally different had this first quarter field goal went through: Over 45 minutes still remained in the game.

    More to the point, that Packers team was a true dynasty and far more talented than the Chiefs. But Green Bay came out very flat in Super Bowl I, and had Mercer made this field goal attempt after Len Dawson drove Kansas City 54 yards, it would have instilled a greater confidence in the underdog Chiefs. 

    But Mercer missed the first-ever field goal attempt in Super Bowl history and since Kansas City would score a touchdown on its very next possession, it missed a chance to take an early and stunning 10-7 advantage. 

No. 7: Roy Gerela Gets a Pat on the Head from Cliff Harris

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    Super Bowl: X

    Situation: Steelers trail Cowboys, 10-7, 9:29 remaining third quarter

    Miss: 33-yard field goal

    Ultimately Roy Gerela missing his second reasonably short field goal in the span of five minutes (he also missed a 36-yarder just before halftime) didn't cost the Steelers Super Bowl X. They won the game.

    But it might have cost the Cowboys Super Bowl X.

    Gerela missed this field goal, prompting Dallas' Cliff Harris to taunt Gerela by patting him on the head and thanking him for preserving the Cowboys three-point lead. That infuriated Steelers linebacker Jack Lambert, who chucked Harris to the ground and fired up the entire Steelers sideline. 

    Pittsburgh went on to score three times in the second half to win 21-17.

No. 6: Adam Vinatieri MISSES!?!?!!

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    Super Bowl: XXXVIII

    Situation: 0-0, 10:33 remaining, 1st quarter

    Miss: 31-yard field goal

    Just about all of the entires on this list are "biggest misses" because of the impact or potential impact they had.

    But not this one.

    Adam Vinatieri missing a field goal in the playoffs is such a mind-boggler. He doesn't miss in the snow, in the cold, in the wind, on grass from 45 yards away and doesn't miss when a Super Bowl title is on the line. But he misses indoors on turf in the first quarter from 31 yards away? 

    Bizarre....or maybe he just wanted to keep it close so he could nail another game-winner in the last seconds.

No. 5: Mike Cofer and a Bad Snap Set Up Great Finish

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    Super Bowl: XXIII

    Situation: 49ers lead 3-0, 13:09 remaining 2nd quarter

    Miss: 19-yard field goal

    This list isn't necessarily about "goat" kickers: it's a compilation of "biggest" (and/or most momentous) missed kicks in Super Bowl history.

    Yes, on the stat sheet Mike Cofer missed this "easy" 19-yard field goal, which is the same length of an extra point. But a bad snap ruined any chance of coming at the ball cleanly and on time.

    So all the blame for this entry doesn't go towards Cofer....still, he was able to at least kick the ball. 

    Regardless of where the blame falls, the kick was no good and it helped keep the Bengals in the game with the dynastic 49ers, setting up Joe Montana's epic 92-yard touchdown drive in the final minutes. 

No. 4: Rich Karlis' Barefooted Blunder

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    Super Bowl: XXI

    Situation: Broncos leading Giants, 10-9, 13 seconds remaining 2nd quarter

    Miss: 34-yard field goal

    Rich Karlis was one of those odd-ball barefooted kickers that were in vogue in the 1980s, so it stands to reason that he would have an odd-ball game in Super Bowl XXI.

    On the opening drive of Super Bowl XXI in Pasadena, Karlis nailed a 48-yard field goal. The longest kick in Super Bowl history (to that time) gave Denver a 3-0 edge over the Giants. 

    Ahead 10-7 early in the second quarter, Karlis missed a 23-yarder that would have extended the lead. Missing that kick was bad: It was a chip shot. But missing another relatively easy one, a 34-yarder just before halftime was crippling.

    Instead of a 13-9 lead, the Broncos took a one-point advantage into the half, and the Giants proceeded to overwhelm Denver in the second half. Who knows how different the game would have been had Karlis made one, or even both, of those makeable kicks. 

No. 3: Morten Andersen and the "Other" Missed Andersen Kick of 1998

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    Super Bowl: XXXIII

    Situation: Falcons trailing Broncos, 10-3, 5:07 remaining 2nd quarter

    Miss: 26-yard field goal

    The most infamous miss of the 1998 season, and one of the most infamous missed field goals of all time, was Gary Anderson's in the NFC championship game. Had he made the 38-yarder, it probably would have sent the Vikings to their first Super Bowl in 21 years.

    But he missed it, and later on that day Morten Andersen made his overtime kick to send the underdog Falcons to Miami for Super Bowl XXXIII.

    It wasn't nearly as legendary, but in that Super Bowl Andersen also missed a routine field goal, late in the first half when his team only trailed by seven, On the very next play, John Elway hit Rod Smith for an 80-yard touchdown that blew the game open.

    It was never close after that, as the Broncos repeated with a 34-19 triumph.

No. 2: Garo's Gaffe

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    Super Bowl: VII

    Situation: Dolphins leading 14-0, 2:07 remaining 4th quarter

    Miss: 42-yard field goal (BLOCKED)

    Sure, you can say that the kick was blocked and therefore wasn't "missed" in the traditional sense. But when you factor in the colossal "miss" of Garo Yepremian's attempt to throw a pass, how can this be excluded? 

    Furthermore, the kick not only cost the Dolphins a shot at a storybook 17-0 win to cap a 17-0 perfect season. Since the block was returned for a touchdown, making the score 14-7, the dream season was actually in doubt. Washington, trailing by just seven points, had the ball in the game's final minute.

No. 1: Wide Right

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    Super Bowl: XXV

    Situation: Bills trailing 20-19, four seconds remaining in fourth quarter

    Miss: 47-yard field goal

    Whatever Billy Cundiff is feeling this week is nothing compared to Scott Norwood. That's an unfair comparison (unfair to Norwood) because the 15-yard difference between Norwood's 47-yarder and Cundiff's 32-yarder is by no means negligible.

    Bu the difference between getting to a Super Bowl and winning it is enormous.

    After 21 years, few people really "blame" Norwood anymore—some truth to the "time heals all wounds" concept. Still, that miss remains the most powerful and important in sports history. Unlike Cundiff or Gary Anderson and the Vikings or any other on this list, it unequivocally decided a Super Bowl championship.