Could kickers make the difference in Super Bowl XLVII?

Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a sports statistics blog published with a focus on stats that go beyond the numbers.

David Akers kicking a field goal

David Akers kicking a field goal with the Philadelphia Eagles(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

With experts expecting a close game for Super Bowl XLVII, the kickers could play an important role in next week’s game.

The two opposing kickers offer quite a contrast. First we have rookie Justin Tucker with the Baltimore Ravens who had a great first season making 30 of 33 field goal attempts, a 90.9 percentage. In the playoffs he has kicked two FGs, making both.

San Francisco kicker David Akers has 367 made field goals on his resume. He has led the league in field goal attempts in four of the last five years. He has 23 playoff games experience, making 36 of 44 (an 81.8 percentage). That’s the good news.

This year, however, has been a struggle for Akers. He missed 13 FGs in the regular season ending the year with a 69 percentage rate, the lowest of his career and far below his career mark of 81 percent.

Akers is, however, one of 26 kickers who has made 80 percent or more of his field goals in playoff games. Here’s a look at the kickers who have the best field goal made percentage in the post-season (from 1966-2012, minimum of 10 attempts).

Field Goal percentage, kicker
92.9%: Martin Gramatica
92.0%: John Kasay
90.9%: Chuck Nelson
90.0%: Brad Daluiso, Stephen Gostkowski
88.9%: Mike Hollis, Jeff Reed
88.0%: Steve Christie
87.5%: Sebastian Janikowski
86.7%: Chris Boniol
85.7%: Josh Brown, Billy Cundiff, Olindo Mare, Rafael Septien
84.2%: Jason Elam
84.0%: Matt Bahr
83.3%: Mason Crosby
82.8%: Adam Vinatieri
81.8%: David Akers, Jim Breech, Shayne Graham
80.6%: Matt Stover
80.0%: Gary Anderson, John Carney, Toni Fritsch, Pat Leahy

In looking at the past 46 Super Bowl games, there have been 10 games where a kicker missed two or more field goals. Dallas Cowboys kicker Efren Herrera in the 1978 Super Bowl missed three field goal attempts, the only time three have been missed by one kicker in a Super Bowl game. Nine kickers have missed two FG attempts in a single Super Bowl contest: Lou Michaels (1969), Jim Turner (1969), Roy Gerela (1976), Rich Karlis (1987), Mike Lofer (1989), Jason Elam (1999), Al Del Greco (2000), Adam Vinatieri (2004), Josh Brown (2006).

Two more interesting stats:

* Two kickers missed a field goal in a Super Bowl game where their team lost by a final margin of three points or less. Buffalo’s Scott Norwood missed a FG in the Bills 20-19 loss in the 1991 Super Bowl against the New York Giants; Rams’ kicker Jeff Wilkins missed a FG in St. Louis’ 2002 Super Bowl loss to the New England Patriots, 20-17.

* Field goal kickers from the Super Bowl winning team have made 73 of 98 field goals, a 74.5 percentage. Kickers from the Super Bowl losing team have made 41 of 64 FGs in the big game, a 64.1 percentage.

Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp

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