In life you will probably meet plenty of people that choke under pressure. Some choke in almost every situation possible, never really succeeding at much of anything. There are some others, however, like San Diego Charger kicker Nate Kaeding, that wait until the biggest moment to choke. It seems that this football player, while one of the most accurate place kickers of all time, cannot handle the pressure that can only come with football in January. When the playoffs go into action, Nate Kaeding apparently feels that tickle in the back of his throat. How fair is this? Let's look at some of the facts...along with some of my own personal opinion about Nate Kaeding.
"Big Game Nate":
Mr. Kaeding used to go by this nickname back in college, along with "Mr. Automatic." During his days at the University of Iowa, this kicker received tons of praise for his ability to come through in the clutch, when his team needed him the most. In all honesty, he earned those nicknames in college. He was one of the very best, most accurate kickers of all time. Nate Kaeding was clutch at the collegiate level.
Regular season success:
Once college came to a close, Nate Kaeding was drafted by the San Diego Chargers. Taken in the 3rd round of the 2004 draft, it appeared to be a good selection. Even as a rookie, he was among the best placekickers out there, connecting at rates that almost seemed too good to be true. Nate Kaeding seemed destined for really great things.
Nate Kaeding has been selected to two pro bowls. He earned the selections in 2006 and 2009 by his incredibly accurate leg. He was truly among the best regular season placekickers during this timeframe.
In 2006, Nate Kaeding led the NFL in field goal percentage, making just over 91% of his attempts.
Missing the big one(s):
In January, 2005, Nate Kaeding lined up for a potential game winning field goal against the Jets, in the Wild Card round of the playoffs. The placekicker missed this 40 yard attempt. It was our first glimpse of what would become a pattern with Nate Kaeding.
In the 2006 playoffs, the San Diego Chargers lined up with the New England Patriots. The Chargers took the best Patriots had to offer. The game, as you would expect, went down to the wire. The Chargers got into place for Nate Kaeding to hit the potential winning field goal. He missed. Granted, it was a 54 yard attempt, clearly no easy task.
The 2007 playoffs marked more disappointment for Nate Kaeding. The kicker missed at field goal against Tennessee, although the Chargers did win the game. In the next round, the Chargers faced the Indianapolis Colts. While the Sand Diego Chargers did win the game, Nate Kaeding continued to struggle, missing yet another playoff field goal.
As 2009 rolled around the San Diego Chargers were hot. The team was on a roll and looked to make some noise in the playoffs. In fact, the team secured a bye week, as the number 2 seed in the AFC. The big underdogs, the Jets, came to town. Nate Kaeding went on to miss 3 field goals in this game.
I think it would be pretty safe to say that any New York Jets fan must have Nate Kaeding as their favorite player.