Tyler Bass is having himself a season, he’s scored 124 points, but he has a pretty checkered history in the playoffs. Matt Gay’s antics on the sideline and on social media after Russell Wilson threw the ball out of bounds on Christmas Day proved kickers can provide light relief as well as points, but it’s the points that are more important.
The Five Kickers you Want on your Team in the Playoffs
Special teams can be overlooked during the regular season but as the pressure intensifies and the margin for error shrinks they’re crucial. Who are the kickers whose small contribution could make a huge difference in January?
Brett Maher is the NFL’s highest scorer this season with 128 points. His 8.5 points per game in 2022 is the most of his career. Maher has kicked 94% of the kicks he’s attempted in 2022 beating his previous best season by six percent.
Since Maher returned to the Cowboys (he played two preseason games in 2013), they have only made the postseason once. In their two playoff games, Maher kicked appeared in he made all five of the extra points he attempted and kicked a 39-yard field goal. He also missed a 58-yard attempt
Harrison Butker has the longest field goal in the NFL in 2022. His 62-yarder against the Bills in October was just two yards short of the NFL record. He’s kicking with an 86% success rate this season. Butker missed games earlier in the season with an ankle issue, but he’s played the last 10 games.
In his five full seasons in the league, Butker has been to the playoffs five times. During that time, he’s only missed six kicks. In his last Super Bowl appearance, Butker scored all of the Chiefs nine points. Overall, he has scored 16 points in Super Bowls, so he certainly doesn’t wilt under pressure. Chiefs fans worry about Butker’s 2022 form but he should be afforded some leeway; any kicker who hasn’t missed in two Super Bowl appearances will be an asset in the postseason.
Earlier in December, Justin Tucker became the NFL’s all-time leading point scorer, overtaking former Raven, Matt Stover. Tucker is the league’s second-highest scorer in 2022 behind Maher. In 2012, his rookie season, Tucker won the Super Bowl with Baltimore. But since then, the six-time Pro Bowler hasn’t made it past the Divisional Round. This year, they have already clinched a playoff berth and there’s a chance they could play AFC North compadres, the Bengals, which would be interesting.
Tucker has made 90% of his attempts in 2022 and his longest field goal is a 58-yarder that he kicked in October against the Bengals. He has never missed an extra point in the playoffs, converting on all 27 he’s attempted. In his five playoff runs, he’s only missed four field goals, giving him an overall success rate of 91% in 10 games.
Robbie Gould might only have an 85.2% success rate in 2022, but he hasn’t missed multiple field goals in any game. He suffered a knee injury against Carolina but was back for the next game. His longest kick in 2022 is 51 yards, seven yards shorter than his career best. He’s only missed one of the 42 extra points he’s attempted this season. During his 18-year career, Gould has only attempted three field goals from 20 yards or closer, unsurprisingly he made all three.
In the playoffs, Gould is historically accurate; he’s played on six postseasons and is yet to miss a kick. He even kicks kickoffs further in the playoffs, 62.6 yards on average compared to 61.9 yards. Gould has kicked 21 field goals in postseason games and 34 extra points. Despite this phenomenal record, he’s never won a Super Bowl.
5 STRAIGHT walk-off wins in the playoffs:
• Evan McPherson: 52YD FG w/ :00 (CIN, 19-16)
• Robbie Gould: 45YD FG w/ :00 (SF, 13-10)
• Matt Gay: 30FG w/ :00 (LAR, 30-27)
• Patrick Mahomes to Travis Kelce 8YD TD in OT (KC, 42-36)
• Evan McPherson: 31YD FG in OT (CIN, 27-24) pic.twitter.com/IwIWju6I2F
— Jay Tust (@KTVBSportsGuy) January 30, 2022
Evan McPherson is very much the new kid on the block in this list at just 23 years old, but the Alabama native has an astonishing record. He’s only kicking with an 87% success rate this year but he’s yet to miss from more than 50 yards out. His longest successful attempt this season is from 59 yards against the Steelers which broke his own Bengal record. Only five kickers (including Maher and Butker) have made longer kicks this season. McPherson’s 103 points account for 26% of the Bengals total points in 2022.
Like Gould, McPherson has a 100% success rate in the playoffs. But, unlike Gould, he’s only played in one postseason. McPherson does, however, have the same number of successful field goals from 50 yards out or further with three. He scored 48 points in the Bengals 2021 playoff run which was 52% of their team total.