The 10 Worst Kicks In NFL History, Part Two

Aaron LiebmanAnalyst IMarch 21, 2008

The first part of the list was published yesterday.  Here are the worst misses in NFL history.  And although I said yesterday you will not see Scott Norwood on this list, you just might, but not in the way you might think.

5. Mike Vanderjagt

With the way Mike Vanderjagt talked off the field, you'd think he was Peyton Manning, the one he was talking about.  Vanderjagt accused Manning of lacking leadership and enthusiasm.  The two quickly made up, and Manning became an MVP and Vanderjagt became the most accurate kicker in NFL history.

This sets the stage for the 2005 season.  The Colts are 14-2.  Home field advantage.  They're playing the sixth-seeded Pittsburgh Steelers.  Trailing 21-18, with the Steelers about to score a goal line touchdown to put the game away, the ball was popped out of running back Jerome Bettis' hands and returned to midfield by the Colts defense.  Indy was alive. 

Then came Mike Vanderjagt. 

The general feeling was: How could the Steelers let this game slip away?  Once Vanderjagt ties it, the Colts will have the momentum in overtime.  The only problem was that Vanderjagt first had to make the kick. 

Vanderjagt not only missed it, but whiffed in such a way that you had to ask if he kicked it with his left foot.  The ball was not even close. 

But Vanderjagt wasn't done.  He threw his helmet on the turf of the Hoosier Dome, adding a personal foul penalty against the Colts.  That would be his last action in a Colts uniform. 

He signed a big contract with the Dallas Cowboys, where he preceded to tank the whole season and the team decided to simply forfeit that cash and cut him.  He has not been seen or heard from since.

4. Doug Brien

The Pittsburgh Steelers set a regular-season record for consecutive wins with 14 in the 2004 season.  At 15-1, and with home-field advantage, people saw their game against the wild-card Jets as a mere exercise, and began debating if they could beat the New England Patriots in the impending AFC Championship Game. 

The Jets caught the Steelers off-guard and would have won the game—had their kicker Doug Brien not missed two potential game-winning field goals in less than two minutes. 

One of them came after the Jets had driven down to the Pittsburgh 30-yard line.  Then, when it seemed certain that overtime would be played, the Jets' defense stepped up and intercepted a Ben Rothlesberger pass in Steelers' territory.  It seemed as though we'd be seeing yet another Jets-Patriots game. 

But with regulation expiring, Brien's second kick missed as well.  The Steelers won in overtime, and Brien has not kicked again (not to suggest he was kicking much in the first place).

3. David Treadwell

Denver Broncos kicker Treadwell took the field for the AFC Championship game knowing he had narrowly avoided disaster a week before in  the divisional round.  During that game, he blew an extra point attempt after the team's first touchdown.  Later, instead of having the game tied at 24, the Broncos were down 24-23.  Luckily, the Broncos had John Elway, who drove the team down the field, and Treadwell redeemed himself to give the team a 26-24 win. 

But this was another week, and another team—the defending AFC Champion Buffalo Bills.  It would be a low-scoring game.  The reason for that would be Treadwell blowing three field goals for his team.  The Bills' only touchdown came on an interception return.  But luckily for them their kicker, Scott Norwood—yes, that Scott Norwood, who will NOT be on this list—converted his attempt to give the Bills a 10-7 win.  A year later, Treadwell was cut and coach Dan Reeves was fired.  They would reunite with the Giants—until, well, Treadwell was cut and Reeves was fired again.

2. Lin Elliot

The Kansas City Chiefs have not won a playoff game since 1993, with some credit going to its 1995 team.  That year the Chiefs were 13-3, and had home field for the playoffs.  They were playing against a pre-Peyton Manning Colts team (heck, they still had Marshall Faulk on the team) with Jim Harbaugh, a man run out of Chicago who hadn't even begin the season as the starter, at quarterback. 

Chiefs' kicker Lin Elliot had not one, not two, but three chances to kick a game-winning field goal for his team.  His biggest miss was when the Chiefs trailed 10-7 and faced their last chance.  It would also be Lin Elliot's last chance to save his job, or even get the possibility of playing somewhere else. 

Long story short, Lin Elliot was out of Kansas City where there probably is still a photo of him on the borders with instructions to shoot on sight.

1. Al Del Greco

Al Del Greco was a hero for the Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans organization.  He had played for seventeen years and made many clutch kicks for the team and was considered a home town hero.  Then came the 2000 Baltimore Ravens.  At 8-1, the Titans hosted the 5-4 Ravens, a team that had lost three straight and had not scored an offensive touchdown in over a month and a half. 

With the game tied at 17, the Titans drove down the field to take the lead.  When Greco came on the field to make it a full touchdown lead, the extra point sailed wide.  Now, instead of a game-tying drive, the Ravens had a chance for a game-winning drive.  The Ravens did so, and their kicker Matt Stover was able to make the extra point to give the Ravens the win, and the momentum that carried the Ravens to win the rest of their games. 

But the story doesn't stop there.  These two teams met in the playoffs.  With the game tied at 10, Greco first had a chance for a field goal before halftime to give them a lead going into the showers.  The kick was missed, and Titans coach Jeff Fisher went to him and casually asked, "You gonna make the game winning kick for us?"  If Greco answered yes, he would be a liar. 

Still tied at 10, Greco had another chance to give his team the lead.  Not only was this kick missed, it was blocked.  And not only blocked, the Ravens special teams brought it back for the go-ahead touchdown.  So instead of being up by three, they were now down by seven.  The Ravens added another touchdown and ended up winning the Super Bowl.  Del Greco was released and never played again.

There you have it.  Any disagreements or comments, I'd be more than happy to hear them.


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