OAKLAND – Sebastian Janikowski ranks among the most reliable kickers in NFL history. Not so this season.
Janikowski has missed seven field goals in 11 games, as many as he shanked the previous two seasons combined.
He sent two attempts wide left on Sunday versus Tennessee, failing to score six points in a game the Raiders lost by four.
While it’s unfair to say Janikowski is the lone reason why the Raiders fell 23-19 at the Oakland Coliseum, but it’s a major cause of this unwelcome result.
[INSTANT REPLAY: Titans snatch game away from Raiders]
Janikowski didn’t stick around to talk about his bad day at the office. He rarely makes himself available to the press, almost never after a game.
But he told Raiders radio sideline reporter and former teammate Lincoln Kennedy that he didn’t like the hold by punter Marquette King on his second miss, from 48 yards out. Kennedy relayed the information on the 95.7 FM game broadcast.
Those issues aren’t new. King has struggled in his first year as a holder. Left-footed Janikowski grew comfortable with punter Shane Lechler holding kicks, but he left for Houston as a free agent.
Those early-season problems were supposedly fixed. Special teams coach Bobby April said a month ago that Janikowski’s problems were largely mental, that he was over-thinking his efforts.
There is consistency in his misses. He’s pulled each miss wide left, and all but one – the second miss, from 48 yards out – has come from the left hash.
He had an ugly make from 48, where a low liner screamed through just above the crossbar.
Whether it is the kicker or the holder, the Raiders have trouble splitting uprights.
“I’d say it’s a field goal unit problem,” Raiders head coach Dennis Allen said. “There are 11 guys out there; it’s not all on one guy. We have to improve in that area – snap, hold, kick, protection. The goal is to get the ball through the uprights and there’s 11 guys responsible for making sure that happens.”
[RELATED: Allen: McGloin has earned another start]
Janikowski is chiefly responsible for these miscues, which have cost the Raiders in critical losses to Indianapolis and now Tennessee.
It’s alarming because it is rare. Janikowski, who converted four attempts, missed two field goals in a game for the first time since Sept. 26, 2010 versus Arizona. It was just the second such instance since 2008.
The volume of misses is particularly troubling, as is the fact Janikowski, King and the unit haven’t yet righted the ship.
“We’re not making them, not consistently enough,” Allen said. “We have to continue to work to get better there. I feel like Sebastian is going to work through this. I still have all the confidence that when I send him out there that it’s going to go through. So it’s just something that we have to go through and we have to get better in that area.”