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The Patriots have lost yet another key player for the rest of the season, as Pro Bowl kicker Stephen Gostkowski was placed on injured reserve with a quad injury. Unfortunately, you can’t really kick a football without a healthy quad muscle. With Gostkowski’s out, let us all welcome former Bengals kicker Shayne Graham.
Tangent: I will never forgive Graham for screwing me in a fantasy football league championship game a few years ago. Needing just one point to beat the Steelers and potentially clinch a playoff spot in Week 17, the Bengals needed Graham to connect on his point after try. Instead, he somehow missed the gimme kick, the Steelers took over in overtime, and Santonio Holmes caught a 60-plus-yard touchdown, giving my opponent (SoB’s Pete) the 10 points he needed. Pete, of course, won by single digits.
Back to the real world, Graham is one of the most accurate field goal kickers in NFL history. He has connected on 85.2% (196/230) of his field goals, good for the sixth highest percentage all-time (Stephen Gostkowski is seventh all-time at 84.3% and just for the hell of it, Adam Vinatieri is 12th at 82.2%).
“My goal is to come in here and perform at my best and perform well for the team and help us win games and help the team make all the goals they set for themselves,” he said. “The fact that I haven’t been on a team for every game this year makes me a little hungry.”
Kicking field goals probably won’t be a problem, though you have to wonder why the sixth most accurate kicker in league history was out of a job. The Bengals cut Graham after last season when he missed two field goals in a playoff loss to the Jets.
It’s worth noting that while Graham was in training camp with the Baltimore Ravens, he was working with new long snapper Matt Katula, who was signed after the Pats cut Jake Ingram. So, there’s a comfort level there.
What could be a problem is on kickoffs, which Gostkowski has excelled at this season. Graham is no slouch in that department, but now that he’s creeping into his 30’s, he won’t be booting as many touchbacks as he used to, and definitely not as many as Gostkowski.