It’s a shame, but Nate Kaeding's legacy is tied to his playoff failure.
No matter how long or how good Kaeding -- who is the AFC’s Pro Bowl kicker and who was named first-team All-Pro last week -- remains, he will never truly be redeemed until he performs well in the playoffs.
After missing three field goals all season, Kaeding was 0-for-3 on field goal attempts Sunday in San Diego’s 17-14 divisional-round home loss to the Jets. Two of the field goals were inside 40 yards.
Kaeding’s postseason struggles are alarming. He is now 3-of-9 in the postseason at home. He cost the Chargers a playoff game against the Jets in 2004, which was his rookie season.
When the Chargers make the postseason again, Kaeding’s struggles will become a storyline. He will have to deal with it. Kaeding is a fine kicker, but he has had his issues in the playoffs.
After the game Sunday, it was clear Kaeding is taking his rough day to heart.
“One of these rested on my shoulders before,” Kaeding said. “Professionally, it’s a tough thing to get through, but I never feel sorry for myself. I feel sorry for my teammates, my coaches and the support staff for letting them down. It’s going to be a tough few months, but I have to get through it. If you relish the good parts of it, you have got to be able to work through the bad part as well. I’ve been through it before, it’s a tough night, obviously, and we’ll let this rest and pick up the pieces.”
It would be unfair to put the loss all on Kaeding. The Chargers were sloppy and undisciplined. It was their worst game of the season. But the truth is, if Kaeding was his usual reliable self, the Chargers likely would have overcome their off day.