Nobody on a football team is under as much pressure as the kicker. This was not the case in the days before specialization. Lou Micheals, once a place kicker and defensive lineman for the Pittsburgh Steelers, put it best. “When I miss a field goal, I have to play all the harder as the defensive end. This is a tremendous incentive I often find myself doing things I previously thought impossible.” Not so today. Placekickers have no chance to atone for misses and often have short lives in football. I think some of their duds just stem from the inability to withstand pressure.
This year the Eagles replaced David Ackers with Alex Henery, a big time kicker in college. Ackers gave fans many fine moments in his ten years as an Eagle. He is the all time team leader in both scoring and games played. Ackers really had critical misses in five games and two of them were not his fault. The Philadelphia Eagles in the last two games listed below played poorly should not have depended on his extra long field goal attempts.
Where David Ackers did not play up to par.
2003 San Francisco at Lincoln Financial Field.
Ackers missed two field goals and the game went into overtime. The Eagles lost on a field goal 30 to 27. Had the Eagles won, the final game at Washington would have been meaningless. They could have played reserves and rested the first string players. However, they had to win the final game to get the home field advantage in the playoffs. The 31 to 7 win was costly. Brian Westbtrook got injured and was out for the playoffs. Westbrook’s presence may have made a difference in the NFC Championship game. The Carolina Panthers defeated the punchless Eagles 14 to 3
2010 Atlanta at Lincoln Financial Field.
Ackers missed three of four field goal attempts. The 31 to 17 victory should have been much easier.
2010 Green Bay in the Playoffs at Lincoln Financial Field
Ackers missed two field goals; Brent Celek stepped over the end line on a two point conversion attempt; and Micheal Vick threw a foolish pass that the Packers intercepted in their End Zone on the final play. Those two missed field goals and elimination of the other two mistakes would have won the game. Packers 21 Eagles 16.
Two Game where Ackers missed long field goals but losing was a team effort.
2005 Dallas at Lincoln Financial Field.
Leading 17 to 7 in the fourth quarter, Philadelphia had the ball first and goal at the Dallas eight. The Eagles could not move the ball a single yard in three downs. Ackers kicked a field goal and the lead was 20 to 7. Dallas suddenly exploded for a touchdown with four minutes left narrowing the lead to 20 to 14. After getting the kickoff, the Eagles committed a mental mistake that indicated lack of coordination. Pass Receiver Reggie Brown went one way and Donovan McNabb threw the ball in another direction. Linebacker Roy Williams intercepted the pass and went for a touchdown. Davis Ackers missed a 54 yard field goal attempt as time ran out. This was the biggest loss of the 05 season but it was a team failure.
2007 New York Giants at Lincoln Financial Field.
The Eagles led 7 to 6 at halftime. In the third quarter, Trent Cole and recovered a fumble returned to the Giants 8. The Eagles could not move the ball a single yard in three downs. Ackers kicked a short field goal. The Eagles lead 10 to 6 but 14 to 6 would have been better. The score was 10 to 9, when Lito Shepard recovered an apparent fumble at the Eagle 30. The officials blew this one calling the ball dead and Andy Reid did not challenge the call. Eli Manning threw a 30 yard touchdown pass to Plaxico Burress for a 16 to 10 lead. David Ackers brought them closer narrowing the score to 16 to 13. However, he missed a 54 yards field goal attempt as time ran out. This was the biggest loss of the 07 season but it was a team failure.