According to Jamison Hensley with ESPN's AFC North Blog, the Cincinnati Bengals are looking for a little more consistency out of Mike Nugent at the end of the season. Hensley recaps Nugent's concluding kicks during his injury-shortened season in 2010, writing:
In his two seasons in Cincinnati, Nugent has started strong before fading. In 2010, he hit 12 of his first 13 field goals before missing three of his final six that season (he suffered a season-ending knee injury on Nov. 14). Last season, Nugent missed one kick in his first 14 games (going 26 of 27) and then missed four in his final three games (hitting 7 of 11), which included a playoff loss at Houston.
Though he missed the field goals, one has to wonder their importance. After exploding with a 23-0 lead early in the third quarter against Arizona, which included three Mike Nugent field goals, the Cardinals scored 16 points in the final quarter. Both of Nugent's misses occurred during Cincinnati's first two possessions in the second quarter, which could have made an impact in hindsight.
With 3:16 remaining in the game, Cedric Benson fumbled the football on Cincinnati's 22-yard line. Thanks to a stingy defense, the Bengals forced Arizona to turn the football over on downs. A personal foul later against Nate Livings and the Bengals were forced to generate 20 yards for the first down with 1:12 remaining and Arizona sporting two timeouts.
Eventually the Cardinals acquired the football at their own 40-yard line with 48 seconds remaining. Quarterback John Skelton completed four passes for 45 yards and if not for a game-saving tackle by Thomas Howard, this game could have very well went into overtime.
In the end Nugent's misses didn't impact the game's conclusion, though they did give Arizona one saving breath to threaten the lead.
Against the Baltimore Ravens, Nugent sailed a 36-yard attempt wide right early in the second quarter. However he also converted a pair of fourth quarter field goals, including his third of the game with 2:44 remaining to bring Cincinnati within one possession for a chance to tie. Despite reaching Baltimore's 33-yard line with 15 seconds remaining and no timeouts, Andy Dalton couldn't complete any of his final three passes (including two deep throws to A.J. Green).
Head coach Marvin Lewis said of Nugent:
"We’re really confident in Mike, and I think Mike has to finish the season just as well as he started the last two," Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said. "That’ll really solidify him and his confidence level."
Though Nugent converted 86.8 percent (33 of 38) of his field goals last year, Shayne Graham still holds the top five single-season franchise records with 91.2 percent being the organization's most efficient season (2007) for a place-kicker when attempting field goals.
On the other hand Nugent's 132 points scored in 2011 set a franchise record, beating Graham's 131 points in 2005.