The NFL's 10 Most Clutch Kicks of the Last 10 Years
The worst part about tackling an article like this is every fan remembers a game where their kicker hit a 45 yard FG as time expired to give the team a 2 point win. The problem is, there are so many of those FGs that compiling all of them would take a few researchers.
If your most memorable play didn't make the list please remember...online articles are not a static medium. They change and grow with each new comment so please feel free to share your favorites.
As for this list...I'm looking for something special. FGs that won playoff games or important regular season contests. Long FGs are particularly appealing, but any kick that added that little extra spice to a great game will get my attention.
For the record, though, an overtime FG in a game the kicker could have won in regulation or earlier in OT (I'm talking to you, Joe Nedney) is not "clutch." It may be redemption of an earlier choking, but it isn't likely to make this list.
One other FG that I'd love to include but that doesn't belong on the list is Bill Gramatica. After kicking an irrelevant FG in the first quarter of a lost season (The Arizona Cardinals were 5-7 at the time), Gramatica celebrated like a drunk college student that kicked a 40 yard FG to win a car at halftime. One torn anterior cruciate ligament later...watch the kick.
2010 Week 3: Josh Scobee's 58-Yard FG to Beat the Colts
OK...so this game didn't have playoff implications. But it was still a great game with a kicker uncorking a perfect boot that was beyond his normal range.
2010 AFC Wild Card: Nick Folk's 32-Yard FG Ousts the Colts
While Nick Folk hasn't exactly shown himself to be a reliable K in the NFL, he did get it right this last post-season.
It looked as though Adam Vinatieri was going to notch yet another game-winning field goal in a playoff game. He hit a 50-yard FG with under a minute to play. Then he kicked the ensuing kickoff a yard deep into the end zone, only to have it returned to midfield.
Mark Sanchez completed a couple passes, setting up the game-winner by Folk.
2009 NFC Championship: Garrett Hartley's 40-Yard FG Beats the Vikings
New Orleans won the overtime coin toss and drove to the Viking's 22 yard line. Hartley stepped up and gave the City of New Orleans and Louisiana some much-needed hope.
The dramatic win was set up, in part, by a Brett Favre interception at the end of regulation that kept the Vikings from attempting a 55-yard FG to win the game. Sound familiar, Packer fans?
2001 AFC Divisional Playoffs: Adam Vinatieri's 23-Yard FG Beat the Raiders
I have to include this game because it is a good reminder to fans that every game matters to playoff teams. The Raiders were 10-3 and in auto-pilot to get a first round bye in the AFC playoffs. However, they lost their last three games of the season and had to settle for the third seed and an away game in the divisional round.
Most of us know how the "Snow Bowl" ended...Vinatieri hit a 45 yard FG to tie the game at the end of regulation.
Midway through OT, and the Patriots lined up to try a FG on third down, the Raiders called a time-out to "ice" Vinatieri. The Patriots used that time to clear the snow around the spot where the ball would be placed for the FG attempt and the 23 yard kick got the Patriots one step closer to the Super Bowl.
Something tells me the Raiders would have preferred to play this game at home.
2006 NFC Divisional Playoffs: Robbie Gould's 49-Yard FG Eliminates the Seahawks
Coming into this game the Bears thought they couldn't lose. They had dominated Seattle at Soldier Field earlier in the season, after all.
The game ended up being hard-fought by both teams,
Mike Holmgren opted against allowing his kicker to attempt a 60-yard FG near the end of regulation. Then, on the final possession in regulation, the Bears got a third down sack to keep Seattle from trying a game-winning FG.
Gould would make the most of his opportunity to advance to the conference title game. After a shanked punt by the Seahawks' Ryan Plackemeir on the first OT possession, the Bears connected on a 30 yard pass to set up Gould's game-winner.
2006: Josh Brown Hits Game-Winning Field Goals of 42, 54, 38 and 50 Yards
Josh Brown tied Ryan Longwell's 2004 record of four game-winning field goals in the last minute of regulation. Brown made this list over Longwell for two reasons.
First, Brown's attempts were longer than Longwell's (33, 46, 23 and 29 yards).
Second, each of Longwell's attempts came in a tie game, making them win or go into OT. The Seahawks were trailing in two of the games, adding to the pressure.
Third, Brown's 54-yard field goal was the second-longest game winning field goal in the NFL's behind Tom Dempsey's record 63-yard field goal. Granted, he was supplanted from the second spot the following week...
2006 Week 7: Matt Bryant Hits Near-Record 62-Yard FG to Beat the Eagles
Field goals can be exciting when they are very long. They can also be exciting when they win a game. At other times they cap improbable comebacks.
On rare occasions, a field goal will accomplish all three.
The Buccaneers built a 17-0 lead until the Eagles fought back to make it a 17-14 game. Bryant then hit a 44-yard FG to extend the lead to six.
That wouldn't be enough, as Donovan McNabb would engineer an 8-play 80 yard drive, capped off by a 52 yard pass to Brian Westbrook. The 2:16 drive left just 0:33 on the clock and sealed the comeback win.
Or so the Eagles though when Matt Bryant, whose career long FG at the time was 52 yards, lined up to kick a field goal that was just one yard short of an NFL record.
Obviously he made the kick, or we wouldn't be talking about the game.
2007 Week 7: Rob Bironas' 8 FGs Beat the Texans
For fantasy football fans, this would have been a bad week to be playing against Rob Bironas. He set an NFL record with eight FGs on the day and a total of 26 points.
OK...so hitting eight FGs in a game is great, but come on. Where is the clutch part? Don't worry...we'll get there.
This game was just odd, as the Titans took a commanding 32-7 lead into the fourth quarter. However, the Texans scored four TDs in the final frame, sandwiched around a Bironas FG. The last Texan score came with just under a minute to play, giving them a 36-35 lead.
Kerry Collins hit two passes, including a 46-yard effort to set up Bironas.
There is always that extra layer of angst when a team is trailing vs. being in a tie game. There is no safety net of OT...it is win or lose on one kick.
Bironas then hit from 29 yards out as time expired. He finished 8-8 on the day, making this the most clutch overall performance for a kicker in the last 10 years. And the 10 years before that...and pretty much every other season in the NFL.
There is only one way to post a more clutch performance and one stage on which that can happen...
2003, Super Bowl XXXVIII: Vinatieri's 41-Yard FG to Beat the Panthers
Few things beat watching a game-winning FG sail between the uprights as time expires in a Super Bowl...so long as it was your team that kicked the ball.
This FG left four seconds on the clock, though, so another kick will beat it.
2001, Super Bowl XXXVI: Vinatieri's 48-Yard FG to Beat the Rams
This FG gets top billing because it came as time expired. Well, technically speaking. I'm sure most spectators thought there were three seconds left on the clock when the ball traveled over the cross-bar.
To all the NFL fans out there that can't stand the Patriots I offer my apologies for allowing them to occupy the top two spots. The simple fact is Vinatieri is deserving. There have been four game-winning field goals in Super Bowl games, and two of them belong to Vinatieri.