Research has shown that NFL kickers do not perform as well under pressure — game-winning or game-tying situations — as they do when things are not so tight.
Obviously that research didn’t include any data on Kai Forbath.
Forbath’s 50-yarder as time expired that gave his new teams its dramatic 52-49 victory against the New York Giants, made him a perfect five-for-five in such situations in his four-year career.
“That’s what they told me when they signed me,” said Forbath, who joined the Saints on Oct. 21 after he’d been waived by Washington following the Redskins’ season opener. “I try to kick every kick the same, no matter the situation.
“No nothing changes.”
Or at least kickers try to tell themselves that as Forbath he kept repeating just before his kick.
But it certainly took an extremely unusual sequence of events to set up Forbath’s opportunity to do what he’s done 61 out of 70 times, but never before for the Saints since they so memorably faked his only opportunity last week at Indianapolis, and the Saints had scored nothing but touchdowns on Sunday.
- The Saints after giving up their fifth and sixth touchdown drives of the day on the Giants’ previous two possessions, the Giants went three-and-out and took just 16 seconds off the clock, putting themselves into a punting situation from their 25 with 20 seconds remaining in regulation.
- Ex-LSU punter Brad Wing, who’s averaged 55.3 yards on his other three kicks, this time got off a 46-yarder, certainly a respectable distance. But it was enough of a line drive that Marcus Murphy was able to bring it back from his 29 to the visitors’ 47.
- Murphy was hit by Craig Dahl and the ball popped up, much as it had earlier for Willie Snead after a reception that the Giants’ Trumaine McBride had return for a stunning go-ahead touchdown.
- This time though, Snead was there to grab it in midair.
- Wing, of all people, tackled Snead, but also grabbed Snead’s facemask in the process. After a lengthy review, the ball was moved to the 32, and Forbath delivered as time expired, match his career long for the third time.
Offically it went down as a one-play scoring drive for no yards.
“Man, that saved my whole week,” said Snead, whose two earlier touchdowns had doubled his career total. “I would have been really been hurt if we’d lost on my fumble, even if it was a bang-bang play.
“When I had an opportunity to show what I can do to make a play for my team. Then I felt good about Kai because of what he’d been doing in practice all week.”
Similarly, Murphy was happy for the opportunity he got since his eight previous kickoffs and three punts on Sunday, he’d only been able to return two.
“Every opportunity is big,” the rookie seventh-round draft pick said. “I knew if the kick came to me right, we could get some good field position.
“The return team blocked for me and even though the ball came out, my man was there to make the play. I’m just glad they got the call right and we were able to go ahead and get us some good field position.”
If the face mask call had not been made, Saints coach Sean Payton said, the plan was to run a play to give Forbath a chance rather than trying a Drew Brees Hail Mary, even thought only five seconds remained.
But it didn’t come to that, and Fortbath, who’d hit seven straight field goals from the new NFL distance after missing one of four in the Indianapolis game, put the ball through the uprights with room to spare.
“This is what we do this for — getting in these situations and then coming through,” Forbath said. “It’s an awesome feeling — getting in these situations and then coming through.
“I’m still learning some of my teammates’ names. What better way to introduce yourself to everyone than by doing this?”