If we handed out a comeback player of the year award, we'd have two strong candidates for the regular season. Offensive tackle Andre Smith and place kicker Mike Nugent, both for overcoming their own adversities and putting together solid 2011 campaigns. Nugent, who tore ligaments in his knee last season during an onside kick against the Indianapolis Colts in week ten, converted 28 of his first 30 field goals in 2011. And largely thanks to the new kickoff rule this year, kicking off from the 35 rather than the 30, 45 percent of Nugent's kickoffs resulted in touchbacks.
Even though Nugent has converted three field goals against the Arizona Cardinals and Baltimore Ravens, Nugent has also missed three field goals during those games. When asked about it, Nugent said it was just a matter of misreading the conditions.
"That ball (Sunday) went exactly where I aimed it, just such a windy game," he said. "The past couple games I've been really happy with the way I've been hitting the ball."
Nugent, Cincinnati's 2011 Ed Block winner, converted a game-winner against the Buffalo Bills earlier this season and dropped another field goal in the closing minutes against the Cleveland Browns.
Nugent's accuracy could generate greater focus with the pounding pressure of a playoff game. The last time the Cincinnati Bengals were in the postseason, his predecessor Shayne Graham failed to convert both field goal attempts against the New York Jets in 2009. Needless to say this is why the Bengals moved on from Graham to the more (hopefully) reliable Nugent.