How Perfect Kicking Helped Push Steelers, Packers To Brink Of Super Bowl

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With the exception of Sunday afternoon’s instant classic in Dallas, the NFL playoffs have been largely underwhelming thus far, with poor execution and lopsided scores taking the place of highlight-reel plays and high drama.

But if you happen to be a huge fan of placekicking, this postseason has been everything for which you could have asked.

NFL kickers didm’t miss a single field goal during the wild-card and divisional rounds, going a perfect 33-for-33 over eight games. It’s the first time since at least 1991 that every field-goal attempt was converted, according to NFL Media.

Sunday’s slate of divisional-round games featured two superb kicking performances. Pittsburgh Steelers kicker Chris Boswell booted a playoff record six field goals to score all of his team’s points in an 18-16 win over the Kansas City Chiefs, and Mason Crosby and Dan Bailey combined to hit three from 50-plus yards in the final 93 seconds of the Green Bay Packers’ thrilling win over the Cowboys.

Crosby’s 51-yarder with no time remaining — which came after Aaron Rodgers’ ridiculous sideline completion to Jared Cook — capped a 34-31 win for Green Bay and sent the Packers to the NFC Championship Game.

Crosby’s club will visit the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, while Boswell and the Steleers will travel to New England to take on the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game. The winners of those games will square off Feb. 5 in Super Bowl LI.

The need for a reliable kicker only increases as teams advance deeper into the playoffs, as New England’s Stephen Gostkowski found out the hard way last year.

Gostkowski missed an extra point in the Patriots’ 20-18 loss to the Denver Broncos in the AFC title game, then proceeded to struggle for much of this season before finally finding his groove in early December.

Every postseason since 2006 has featured at least one conference championship game that was decided by a touchdown or less, including five that were decided by three points or fewer and four that went to overtime.

Thumbnail photo via Jay Biggerstaff/USA TODAY Sports Images

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