The Philadelphia Eagles had many problems with their offense this season, but not with their kicking game. Alex Henery was one of the Eagles’ more reliable scorers, although it hardly made a real difference. At the least, Henery has softened the blow from the loss of David Akers, who is on much shakier ground despite going back to the Super Bowl.
San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh had to confirm on Jan. 21 that Akers will remain his kicker for the Super Bowl. This came after he missed a key field goal against the Atlanta Falcons on Jan. 20, following a regular season where he missed 13 field goals.
The Eagles never saw Akers struggle that much when he was their dependable kicker. Yet Philadelphia still cut him after he missed crucial kicks against the Green Bay Packers in a 2010 wild card game -- the last playoff game of the Andy Reid era. It looked like a huge mistake, especially when Akers set an all-time record in regular season field goals for the 49ers in 2011.
But with all of his missed kicks this season, Akers has become the biggest question mark the 49ers have. If the Super Bowl on Feb. 3 comes down to kicking, San Francisco may be at a huge disadvantage at this rate. While Harbaugh still has public faith in Akers, his decision to keep him will be quite infamous if Akers becomes the next Scott Norwood.
The Eagles now have to feel a bit better that they got rid of Akers when they had the chance. Instead of keeping him at the tail end of his career, they have Henery set up as their kicker for years to come. Still, due to Philadelphia’s problems over the last two years, Henery has never gotten to make a clutch, game-winning kick in big games, like Akers used to do regularly.
While the Eagles wait to give Henery that chance, Akers will narrowly get to play in his first Super Bowl since 2005. However, he never had to kick a field goal that day, as the Eagles lost to the New England Patriots by 24-21.
Yet if Philadelphia worked faster in the final moments, perhaps Akers could have sent the game to overtime at the buzzer. If San Francisco has to do that with the Akers of today, however, it will nervously hold its breath.