It seems ridiculous that one of the biggest things I noticed in Robert Griffin III's spectacular debut was Billy Cundiff's kicking. But as the game ended with my wife looking at me like a crazy person as I was jumping up and down, I was thinking about the final score and how that difference was made with 4 made field goals. Yesterday I watched Penn State lose a painful game to UVA because their kicker missed four FGs. Kicking and kickers in general aren't taken seriously by fans, because you only notice them when they screw up.
But the Saints are different. Because of Darren Sprouls's amazing return ability as well as the first-rate offense that can seemingly score at will, there added pressure against New Orleans to score on every opportunity you have. Griffin was excellent, but we didn't score touchdowns on every drive. In order to win games in the NFL, you need to have a kicker who can bury them. Last year, for all his power, Graham Gano was 12-16 and that's not counting the kicks he didn't even make because he was so unreliable. He also wasn't terribly good on kick-offs either for all that power, the 'Skins were only 17th in the NFL last year. The Redskins haven't had a reliable kicker since Chip Lohmiller, really. Over the years its been near comical how terrible out kicking has been as kicker after kicker has been rotated through here.
If today was any indication, kicking will be a huge part of why the Skins will win. Last year we lost a ton of close games and with a kicker only hitting 75% of his boots its no wonder. If Billy Cundiff can continue to put kickoffs in the back of the end zone and put through the uprights kicks of 37, 41, 37, and 45 it will make a huge difference in close games. Those four kicks where 12 points, we won by 8.
I went to high school in New England so I've followed the Patriots closely over the years and trust me, a kicker matters much more than anyone wants to admit or even like. If Cundiff can keep this up, that only bodes well for the rest of this season.