||Saturday, January 27|
Kickers could decide Super Bowl
By Greg Garber
TAMPA, Fla. -- Even before Brad Daluiso or Matt Stover kicks off Super Bowl
XXXV, they will have been here in the gut-wrenching crucible of the
Daluiso, the Giants' placekicker, handled kickoffs for the Buffalo
Bills in Super Bowl XXVI, while Scott Norwood kicked three extra points and
a field goal. Stover, the Ravens' placekicker, was actually on the Giants'
sidelines the year before in Super Bowl XXV when Norwood missed the
last-second 47-yard field goal that made the Giants winners.
"It's funny how things work out," Daluiso said earlier this week. "I
guess what goes around comes around."
With a pair of nasty defenses, Super Bowl XXXV promises to be a
low-scoring affair. It is quite possible the game, one way or another, will
come down to a single field goal attempt.
"Did I feel empathy for Scott?" Stover asked. "Absolutely. Was I sad
they lost? No -- I got a Super Bowl ring."
While Stover said he would welcome a chance to win the game in the
final moments, Daluiso had an interesting spin on the question.
"No, I hope it doesn't come down to that," Daluiso said. "Any kicker
who says he wants to kick the game-winner is lying. We just want to win and
get out of there.
"If it's going to come down to one last kick, there's a chance you're
going to lose. To be honest, I hope we win, 35-0."
So, which kicker is better equipped to nail that winning kick?
The two kickers have identical post-season statistics -- they have each
scored 19 points, made four of five field goals and drilled all 7
point-after attempts. Amazingly, both their misses hit the upright; Daluiso
hit the left, while Stover hit the right. However, history, recent and
otherwise, suggests Stover is the best bet.
Stover, afterall, is the AFC's Pro Bowl placekicker. He led the NFL
with 135 points over the regular season and converted 35 of 39 field goals
and all 30 of his point-afters. Distilled, he made 65 of 69 kicks with
points on the line.
When Baltimore suffered through its 0-for-October touchdown streak,
Stover effectively won two games by himself, converting nine of 10 field
goal attempts to beat the Browns (12-0) and the Jaguars (15-10).
There are some who believe, despite the marvelous defense, that Stover
was the Ravens' MVP this season.
Stover's four misses are worth examining. He had a 30-yarder blocked in
the season's third game, which ended a 24-game success streak. He then
missed a 51-yarder (Game 5), a 47-yarder (Game 12) and a 45-yarder in Game
|Matt Stover converted 35 of 39 field goals during the regular season.
In the playoffs, he made his only attempt against Tennessee, then went
3-for-4 against Oakland in the AFC Championship. The miss was a 36-yarder
that hit the right upright.
Daluiso hasn't been nearly as productive this year. He missed two games
with a bad back (Jaret Holmes filled in) and converted 17 of 23 field goal
tries and all 34 point-afters. There are two ways to look at his season: He had
a dreadful game at Chicago on Sept. 17, missing all three field goal
attempts: a 34-yarder missed and tries from 41 and 31 yards were blocked
after a bad snap and a bad hold. But after that melt-down, Daluiso made 15
straight kicks before missing a 39-yarder in the regular-season finale
For his career, Stover is a more accurate kicker. He is 240-for-297 and
his percentage (.808) is the fifth-best in league history. Stover converted
12 of 15 field goal attempts of 40 yards or more. Daluiso is 125-for-164
(.762), but has more playoff experience than Stover. This will be his ninth
playoff game, although he was only a kickoff specialist for five of them.
Nonetheless, Daluiso is 9-for-10 converting field goals in the post-season.
This will be Stover's sixth playoff game and he is 7-for-10 in field
goals. The two misses (50 and 49) came in his first post-season game.
So, football fans, strap yourself in for a long, hard fight on Sunday.
May the best placekicker -- whoever he is -- win.
"Hey," said Daluiso, "it could happen that way. Obviously, I'll be
ready for it."
Said Stover, "If the MVP comes up, so be it. I'll
be glad to go to
Greg Garber is a senior writer for ESPN.com.
||Any kicker who says he wants to kick the game-winner is lying. We just want to win and get out of there. If it's going to come down to one last kick, there's a chance you're going to lose. To be honest, I hope we win, 35-0. ”
||— Brad Daluiso, Giants kicker