Not once did kicker Alex Henery make a clutch kick during the 2011 NFL season.
He never appeared in the headlines for anything positive. The only time you heard his name was when he missed two field goals, both in the 30-yard range, to cost the Eagles a victory against the San Francisco 49ers that, when looking back, could have gotten the team the NFC East division title.
But all Alex Henery did for the team’s final 12 games was make every single kick that he attempted. That would be 16 field goals, which puts him one field goal away from tying David Akers’ franchise record of 17 consecutive field goals made, achieved in both 2001 and 2009.
He also broke the NFL single-season record for field goal percentage by a rookie. Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey held that record but he missed a costly 51-yard kick before halftime in the Cowboys’ eventual 31-14 loss to the New York Giants in the season finale. That missed kick gave Henery the record for rookies.
He made 24 of his 27 field goals. The San Francisco misses were well-documented. The other miss was a 63-yard field goal attempt right before halftime of the Atlanta Falcons game, which was the second game of the season. Henery’s kick was about 10 to 15 yards short.
His 88.9 percentage also breaks Akers’ team record of 88.2 percent, set in 2002, when he connected on 30 of 34 field goals.
And no one has mentioned it, but Henery’s kickoff distance improved dramatically throughout the season.
So, despite all the criticism he received for missing the kicks against San Francisco, and all the extra pressure he felt replacing a legend, Henery set two records (franchise single-season field goal percentage, rookie field goal percentage), and will likely set a third in 2012 (franchise consecutive field goals made).
Can you see now why the Eagles felt it was necessary to draft Henery, the most accurate kicker in NCAA history, in the fourth round and let David Akers walk?