LOS ANGELES — Evan McPherson hasn’t even finished his first season in Cincinnati, but he’s already etched his name in Bengals history. The rookie kicker has two game-winning field goals to his name this postseason and if he can add one more, he will also etch his name in NFL history.
McPherson is in the midst of one of the greatest postseason performances the NFL has ever seen and he could put a giant exclamation point on Cincinnati’s season if he can give the Bengals their first Super win. Bowl in franchise history.
The thing about the Super Bowl, however, is that it can smash even the best of kickers. On the NFL’s biggest stage, kickers who’ve had ice in their veins all season can watch it melt away.
There’s so much pressure in the Super Bowl that every kick over 40 yards is basically a roll of the dice. In the game’s 55-year history, kickers have connected on just 57.3% of their attempts from beyond 40 yards (to put that into perspective, NFL kickers have combined to hit 73, 4% of their 40-yard kicks in 2021). With such low percentages, it creates drama on almost every kick.
Rams kicker Matt Gay hit 84.6 percent of his field goals from beyond 40 yards during the regular season, but he hit just 60 percent of his kicks from that distance in the playoffs.
Every kicker fantasizes about hitting a winning field goal in the Super Bowl, but that dream kick can turn into a nightmare just as quickly. There’s a fine line between famous and infamous and it’s a line we’ve seen Super Bowl kickers walk through history. If you make a winning basket, you’ll end up on the famous side of things like Adam Vinatieri, but if you miss a big basket, you’ll end up on the infamous side of things like Scott Norwood.
Of course, if anyone can imitate Vinatieri, it’s the one who breaks all his records. McPherson has already scored 12 field goals in the playoffs and if he hits three more, he will break Vinatieri’s record for most field goals in a single playoff. McPherson also scored four field goals in each of the Bengals’ three playoff games this year, which tied Vinatieri for the most four-game field goals in NFL playoff history. . It took Vinatieri 24 seasons to set the record, but it only took McPherson one postseason to equal it.
If McPherson has another four-goal game in the Super Bowl, not only would he break Vinatieri’s record, but he could even put himself in line to win the game’s MVP award, which never happened. In a twist, the Bengals’ first two Super Bowl appearances both came close to producing an MVP kicker.
In Super Bowl XVI, 49ers kicker Ray Wersching scored four field goals in a 26-21 victory and probably should have won MVP, but the prize went to Joe Montana, who pitched for only 157 yards in the win.
In Super Bowl XXIII, Bengals kicker Jim Breech was the game’s leading scorer. On a night the Bengals failed to score an offensive touchdown, Breech scored three field goals in a game where the Bengals were leading 16-13 with just 40 seconds left.
Even though Vinatieri scored a game-winning field goal in two different Super Bowls, he was never voted MVP (Tom Brady won it both times).
If McPherson breaks one of Vinatieri’s records this year, that would be fitting, because Vinatieri is the only kicker he’s looked up to in his life.
“I loved watching his run with the Patriots when he kicks the Super Bowl winners,” McPherson said on Super Bowl Media Night. “I think every kid’s dream is to score the winning Super Bowl.
The thing with McPherson is that being a rookie can come in handy for the Super Bowl and that’s because when you’re young you don’t know what you don’t know.
“You don’t have time to really think about the situation,” McPherson said this week when asked why he’s so good at landing big kicks. “You’re out there, you take your steps, you kick the ball, you go out of bounds. You don’t really have time to think about the situation too much.”
McPherson has really only had one bad game this season, which came in a Week 5 loss to the Packers, and while he missed two field goals, that didn’t help him. didn’t phase because he used the misfires as a learning experience.
“I think you probably learn more from your failures than your successes,” McPherson said. “You definitely learn from times like these.”
If there’s a Super Bowl that could be all about a field goal, it’s definitely like this. This game will mark only the second time in NFL history that two teams will meet after winning their last two games by exactly three points.
For the Bengals, every game seems to come down to a field goal, but that didn’t faze Shooter McPherson aka Money Mac aka Kick McPherson aka Evan Almighty (the guy has as many nicknames as kicks). ‘clutch).
“In my mind, I’m walking out there thinking ‘there’s no way this ball isn’t going through the uprights,'” McPherson said.
That’s the kind of confidence you need to kick the Super Bowl, which is why McPherson is likely hoping this game goes down on his right foot.