We all know about how Nick Folk's recent slump makes plenty of Jets fans nervous about a game potentially coming down to his leg. The Patriots are in something of a similar spot. Their regular kicker, Stephen Gostkowski, is out of the year with a torn quadriceps muscle. They signed Shayne Graham to replace him.
Yes, I'm talking about that Shayne Graham. He is the guy who missed chip shots of 28 and 35 yards against the Jets in the Playoffs last season. Graham is one of the most accurate kickers in league history in statistical terms, but he has been less than reliable in clutch spots. He missed a kick on the final day of the 2006 season against the Steelers that would have won a game and sent the Bengals to the Playoffs. Santonio Holmes took a slant the distance in overtime to eliminate Cincinnati and win it for Pittsburgh (sounds familiar). He missed a kick two years ago in overtime against the Eagles in the infamous tie that confounded Donovan McNabb.
Graham has been perfect on field goal tries this year in New England, albeit none coming longer than 40 yards. He has, however, missed an extra point, which could be a sign of trouble.
Kickers are strange animals. Folk and Graham might both be perfect tonight. They might both deliver in the clutch. One might even be a hero. Neither fan base should be brimming with confidence, however, if their kicker is called upon in a big spot. The days of Adam Vinateri are over in Foxborough.