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NFL kickers recall their low points, how they persevered and what advice they have for struggling peers

ESPN.com | Updated: 2018-09-21 20:30:36

As Zane Gonzalez sat by himself on the Cleveland Browns' bench, head down, drenched in the disappointment of a Week 2 performance that would cost him his job, New Orleans Saints kicker Will Lutz walked over and tried to offer some support.

Lutz may have been the only person in the Superdome who could truly empathize with what Gonzalez was feeling. Only a fellow kicker knows how vulnerable the position is and understands the heartless truth of: You're only as good as your next kick. Ask Dan Bailey, the second-most accurate kicker in NFL history who struggled in the second half of last season and suddenly became too expensive for the Dallas Cowboys to keep on the roster this year. Now Bailey is in Minnesota after rookie Daniel Carlson missed three field goals and was released after the Vikings tied with the Green Bay Packers.

Vikings coach Mike Zimmer called the decision to release Carlson "pretty easy." He added "Did you watch the game?"

Packers kicker Mason Crosby has watched many games and has seen many misses, including 12 of his own in 2012 as he converted just 21 of 33 attempts. Yet the Packers stuck with him.

"Well, I mean that's just different places' philosophy," Crosby said. "Bummer how it played out in those situations for those guys."

There were 19 misses Sunday, and two kickers were released. Since Week 1 of 2017, 14 teams currently have a different kicker.

NFL Nation talked to kickers around the league this week to find out how they overcame their low points and what advice they would give to struggling peers.


Will Lutz

Low point: "My rookie year, there were a lot of bumps there [28-of-34 on field goals, 49-of-50 on extra points]. And I talked to [former veteran safety] Roman Harper a lot. And it was Carolina, Roman came up to me, he saw that obviously it wasn't a good Monday for me. And he came up to me and he said, 'Sometimes you gotta take your bogey and move on.' Just like when you golf, you take your bogey, you don't dwell on it, you pick it up and you go to the next hole. You can't let it affect your next hole. I think that's one of the best things I've ever heard. And I remind him every time I see him. And I actually saw him after the game Sunday, and I told him, 'Man. After that miss that I had, it was like, I really gotta take this bogey and move on.' So that's kind of my way of getting through it. You take it to the next kick."

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