5 Most Painful Field Goal Misses in NFL History
Ideally, an NFL team will put in a dominant performance that lets it glide into the history books. But sometimes, luck isn’t on their side. Instead of field goals acting as a punctuation mark on the end of a touchdown, they are the only thing standing between victory and defeat. Imagine an entire season coming down to one field goal kick. When everything is riding on the kicker’s accuracy, a near miss can be especially painful.
Below you’ll find some of the most painful field goal misses in NFL history, reminders that in the highly competitive world of professional football, every point matters.
Blair Walsh Couldn’t Save The Day
(NFC Wild Card Playoff, 2016)
Poor, Blair Walsh! He was a one man offense for the Minnesota Vikings, scoring the team’s only nine points during their Wild Card face off against the Seattle Seahawks. The Seahawks weren’t fairing much better with 10 points. All Walsh needed to do was to drive a football 27 yards, sailing it neatly between the goal posts. It should have been his easiest kick of the day. But as the commentator exclaimed in the above video, Walsh’s effort “wasn’t even close,” and the Seahawks survived.
As much as Vikings fans rode Walsh for choking, it’s worth once again mentioning that all nine points the Minnesota team earned that day came by way of the kicker. If Walsh choked that fateful day, it’s fair to say he wasn’t the only one.
Mike Vanderjagt Thwarts Colts’ Comeback
(AFC Divisional Round, 2006)
Everyone loves a comeback! Well, everyone except the opposing team. In the case of the Pittsburgh Steelers, the team found itself mostly helpless to stop the Indianapolis Colts from making a late comeback. The score stood at 21-18 as the usually reliable Mike Vanderjagt prepared to make a 46-yard field goal attempt.
Vanderjagt missed wide and to the right with less than half a minute remaining. The most bizarre part of this saga is what came next. In 2012, the now former Colts kicker was accused of choking a middle school student who taunted him over the missed field goal.
Gary Anderson’s Luck Runs Out
(NFC Championship, 1999)
Gary Anderson is proof that it doesn’t matter if a kicker is perfect 99 percent of the time. In his case, one percent came down to the missed field goal that cost the Minnesota Vikings a trip to the Super Bowl. It’s amazing (and heartbreaking!) to think that this was the first and only mistake he’d made during the 1998-99 Vikings season. Talk about terrible timing!
Scott Norwood’s “Wide Right” Miss
(Super Bowl XXV, 1991)
The Buffalo Bills trailed the New York Giants by a mere point. There were just eight seconds left on the clock. For the Bills, their Super Bowl victory ultimately came down the accuracy of kicker Scott Norwood. Just 47 yards stood between him and plenty of accolades. One missed field goal kick later, and Norwood would become synonymous with the phrase “wide right.”
Perhaps fortunately for everyone outside of Bills fans, the game would be more remembered for Whitney Houston’s take on the National Anthem.
Tony Romo Blows Easiest Field Goal Imaginable
(NFC Wild Card Game, 2006)
Rarely does a failed field goal attempt come down to someone other than the kicker. But for the Dallas Cowboys, the exception proved to be the rule. Quarterback Tony Romo only needed to hold the ball long enough for kicker Martin Gramatica to make magic happen. Instead, Romo fumbled the ball and made a failed attempt to run the all in or a touchdown. Dallas lost, and many observers credit that heart-wrenching moment as the last straw that pushed Cowboys coach Bill Parcells into retirement.
The NFL kicker is the pro-football embodiment of “you had one job.” As such, these men often find themselves in some truly unenviable positions. For as much as sports fans harp on these professionals for blowing their big moment, it’s hard to argue that any of them would have done any better if the positions were reversed. There is a silver lining. Mistakes like this, though brutal, seem to exist to make those moments where things do go as planned feel that much more amazing.