Earlier today we posted a blurb about a Shayne Graham interview in which he recounts his exit from Cincinnati. That really wasn't all. Graham, perhaps rightly so, says:
"A lot of the fans remembered the ones that I missed," Graham explained. "But I made a lot more than I missed -- that's the thing."
I'm not going to go all evil with maddening ginger insults (Eric Cartman's crusade continues) for perhaps a genuinely good guy that simply was noted for having Charlie Brown'd big kicks in big games. That's not us. That's not how we roll. We're civil Bengals fans. We're understanding as well as forgiving. Unless it has something to do with the Steelers. We hate the Steelers. We also hate ferrets, warm beer and battery sucking Xbox 360 controllers.
Aside from Jim Breech -- who played for the Bengals, it seems, longer than I've been on Earth -- no player in Bengals history has scored more points. No one. Alright, so kickers generally hold the scoring records. Yada, yada. I know that. I get it. But we'll continue anyway. Based on a points-scored per season breakdown, Graham recorded a 20 point-per-season advantage than Breech. Graham also holds the franchise record for most converted field goals in a season (31), highest average for field goals per game (1.94) and his seven field goals on November 11, 2007 against Baltimore is the most in franchise history. Graham also holds the top two longest field goal streaks with 21 in 2007 and 17 between the 2005 and 2006 seasons. His 13 consecutive field goals in 2004 is tied for third most with Breech and twice by Doug Pelfrey.
Want me to continue?
Of the most accurate seasons in franchise history, Graham holds the top five spots. Yes. Graham holds the top five most accurate seasons in franchise history, with 91.2% converted in 2007 being the best. Graham was the most accurate kicker in franchise history from 20-29 yards (96.7%), from 30-39 yards (90.3%) and from 40-49 yards (83.3%). In fact, Graham had a 14% advantage over the second most accurate kicker Doug Pelfrey, who converted 69.4% from that distance. Jim Breech? Hell, he was two misses away from being under 50%. Graham's 53-yard field goal against Cleveland on November 29, 2009, was two yards short of the franchise record 55 yards held by Chris Bahr.
Graham did a lot of great things. But he's right about one thing. He'll be remembered for a missed kick in 2006 that would have avoided overtime against the Pittsburgh Steelers; a game that the Bengals lost and as a result, were eliminated from the playoffs. Effing Steelers. Effing ferrets. There was the two very makeable field goal attempts against the New York Jets during last year's Wild Card game that he missed. Though in reflection, we could argue that the Bengals passing offense performed way worse than Graham's misses. There were others.
For all the good that Graham has done, he will be remembered unkindly for his misses. That's the life of a place kicker. That's the life of an NFL player. So what if your level of bad-assery was a ten. If it was below a three the last time I saw you, then you're no longer needed, nor wanted.
Graham wasn't offered a job after his one-year franchise contract expired. Cincinnati signed David Rayner for a second tour of duty and Mike Nugent. Rayner converted four of five field goals (36, 27, 31 and 26 yards respectively) and an extra point against Denver. Nugent, who is trying to recover from a groin injury, converted two extra points. Rayner also converted a PAT against the Dallas Cowboys.
While Rayner keeps making kicks, Nugent knows his time is running short.
“If you’re someone who has been kicking on a team for 10 years then you know you’re going to be the guy. You can chill out and be ready for the season,” said Nugent, knowing full well that isn’t the case here. “Obviously whoever kicks better is going to be the guy. You don’t want to put bad things on film or kick poorly.”
Aside from field goal attempts, Rayner is kicking the ball better during kickoffs, writes Joe Reedy:
Against the Broncos, Nugent’s three kickoffs were just shy of the end zone (average was the 3). By comparison, five of Rayner’s seven kickoffs this preseason have reached the end zone and was 4 of 5 on field goals against Denver.
Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis hopes that Nugent will get some field goal opportunities and during Wednesday's press conference said that Nugent "has been healthy. We rested him the second half of last week’s game. He’ll have an opportunity to kick on Friday and that was the big thing." And if Nugent converts 100% of his field goals, Lewis will replace "that was the big thing" with "and that's a good thing."