If you could have any kicker in the league, who would you want? Trally, thereare only three choices: Morten Andersen of the New Orleans Saints, Gary Anderson of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Nick Lowery of the Kansas City Chiefs. They have pushed the art of placekicking to a new level.
Andersen has hit 79.1 percent of his field goals and is the league's career accuracy leader. Lowery (78.8) has hit 21 of 22 this year to jump into second place. Anderson is in third place (78.1).The race is so close that if Andersen goes 1 for 3 today, and Lowry goes 1 for 2 against the Steelers, and Anderson goes 3 for 3, they will all be tied at 78.4 percent.
From inside 40 yards, Andersen is the best. He has hit 95 of 101 career attempts (94.1 percent) and his only miss in the past two years was blocked. From between 40 and 50 yards, Anderson is the best. He has connected on 78.5 percent, compared to 76.3 for Lowery and .667 for Andersen.
From beyond 50, Lowery is the best. Although his career percentage (.444) is lower than Andersen's (.481), he has hit 11 of his past 19. In the past two seasons, Lowery is 4 for 4, Anderson 3 for 10.
*** Cleveland Browns quarterback Bernie Kosar reached his 25th birthday ahead of all-passing yardage leader Fran Tarkenton's pace, but behind the pace of Dan Marino of the Miami Dolphins. Kosar, whose birthday was Friday, has thrown for 9,626 yards. Tarkenton threw for 9,409 yards before his 25th birthday. Marino threw for 11,975.
Even if Kosar hadn't lost three games to the players strike a year ago and six games to injury this year, he probably would not have matched Marino. Kosar has averaged 204 yards passing per game as a pro, and that pace over nine additional games would have put him more than 500 yards beind Marino.
Among active quarterbacks, only Marino, Kosar and Steve Grogan of the New England Patriots (6,011) had more than 6,000 yards before their 25th birhtday. *** Since the National Football League went to a 16-game schedule in 1978, only two teams have not had a 1,000-yard receiver: the Los Angeles Rams and the Chicago Bears. Without one, the Rams made it to the playoffs seven times in 10 years. The Bears made it five times.
*** The Rams haven't had a 1,000-yard receiver in 23 years, the longest stretch in the NFL. This year, Rams receiver Henry Ellard seems likely to reach 1,000. He needs 51 yards in his final four games.
The Bears, who have not had a 1,000-yard receiver since Dick Gordon in 1970, seem likely to finish without one again this season. Their leading receiver is Dennis McKinnon (465 yards), and he will need to average 134 yards per game to get to 1,000.