SAN DIEGO -- Nate Kaeding
can hit a flagpole at the San Diego Chargers
' practice facility from 50 yards out. The first-team Pro Bowler and All Pro kicker entered Sunday's AFC divisional game against the New York Jets
at Qualcomm Stadium armed with an incredible streak of 69 consecutive field goals made from 40 yards or less.
On a day when the Chargers
could do little right, Kaeding's total collapse -- three missed field goals of 36, 57 and 40 yards -- surely will epitomize a mistake-prone San Diego team that squashed any hopes of competing with the New York Jets and their top-ranked defense and rushing attack.
And the final score -- 17-14, Jets
-- will put the onus on Kaeding, whose best moments do not come in the postseason.
"One of these [losses] rested on my shoulders before. 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," said Kaeding, who has come up short against the Jets before.
In the 2004 playoffs, in a wild-card game against this same franchise, he became the second rookie kicker in NFL
history to try a potential game-winning field goal in either regulation or overtime. But he missed from 40 yards out, and the Jets won on a Doug Brien field goal.
In the '06 postseason, Kaeding missed what would have been a game-tying 54-yard field goal against the New England Patriots
. Kaeding also missed a field goal in both of the Chargers' '07 playoff games.
Kaeding entered the '09 playoffs with a postseason chip on his shoulder, having connected on only 8 of 12 playoff field goal attempts in his career.
"It's going to be a tough few months, but I have to get through it," he conceded after going 0-for-3 on Sunday. "If you relish the good parts of it, you have to be able to work through the bad part as well. It's a tough night, obviously, and we'll let this rest and pick up the pieces."
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SAN DIEGO - JANUARY 17: Cornerback Darrelle Revis
#24 of the New York Jets celebrates after a missed field goal by Nate Kaeding #10 of the San Diego Chargers in the AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Qualcomm Stadium on January 17, 2010 in San Diego, California. The Jets defeated the Chargers 17-14. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Darrelle Revis;Nate Kaeding
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New York Jets cornerback Dwight Lowery (21) celebrates next to Cincinnati Bengals fullback Brian Leonard (40) after the Jets sacked Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer, right, on the ground, in the second half of an NFL wild-card playoff football game, Saturday, Jan. 9, 2010, in Cincinnati. New York won the game 24-14. (AP Photo/David Kohl)
A Cincinnati Bengals fan sits in the empty stands after the New York Jets defeated the Bengals 24-14 during an NFL wild-card playoff football game, Saturday, Jan. 9, 2010, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Rob Carr)
New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan, right, hugs Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis after the Jets defeated the Bengals 24-14 in an NFL wild-card playoff football game, Saturday, Jan. 9, 2010, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Ed Reinke)
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer (9) walks off the field after the New York Jets defeated the Bengals 24-14 in an NFL wild-card playoff football game, Saturday, Jan. 9, 2010, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Ed Reinke)
CINCINNATI - JANUARY 9: Quarterback Carson Palmer #9 of the Cincinnati Bengals looks down at his helmet late in the fourth quarter against the New York Jets during the 2010 AFC wild-card playoff game at Paul Brown Stadium on January 9, 2010 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Carson Palmer
CINCINNATI - JANUARY 9: Quarterback Mark Sanchez #6 of the New York Jets stands on the field during the 2010 AFC wild-card playoff game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium on January 9, 2010 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Mark Sanchez
CINCINNATI - JANUARY 9: Wide receiver Chad Ochocinco #85 of the Cincinnati Bengals looks on from the sideline late in the fourth quarter against the New York Jets during the 2010 AFC wild-card playoff game at Paul Brown Stadium on January 9, 2010 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Chad Ochocinco
Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb (5) jokes around with teammates before an NFL wild-card playoff football game against the Dallas Cowboys, Saturday, Jan. 9, 2010, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan watches in the second half of an NFL wild-card playoff football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Saturday, Jan. 9, 2010, in Cincinnati. New York won 24-14. (AP Photo/Ed Reinke)
New York Jets defensive end Mike Devito (70) celebrates after the Cincinnati Bengals missed a field goal during the fourth quarter of an NFL wild-card playoff football game, Saturday, Jan. 9, 2010, in Cincinnati. The Jets won 24-14. (AP Photo/Rob Carr)
Jets coach Rex Ryan's team, which advances to play the Indianapolis Colts next Sunday in the AFC Championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium, is a step away from the Super Bowl, thanks in part to Kaeding's awful day. But Ryan wasn't surprised to see the NFL's most accurate field goal kicker fall apart like he did. For the Jets' bombastic leader, this was just another aspect to what became a momentous day for his underdog team.
"It's the playoffs," Ryan said. "Anything can happen."
Chargers coach Norv Turner tried to talk to Kaeding along the sidelines after each attempt failed, but the pep talks clearly didn't work.
"I'm not going to put it all on Nate," Turner said. "We've had a lot of guys that have had career years that [made] plays they would like to have [had] a different outcome."
Someone asked Kaeding what happened on the kicks.
"I didn't kick it between the uprights," said Kaeding, who hit 32 of 35 attempts (91.4 percent) in the 2009 regular season.
Said long-snapper David Binn, "I feel bad for him, really bad."
The 36-yard attempt with 6:31 left in the opening quarter was wide left; the 57-yard prayer just before halftime fell so short that All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis fielded it at the back of the end zone. The 40-yard attempt with 4:42 remaining in the game sailed wide right.
"I felt great coming in and obviously I've been kicking the ball great coming in," Kaeding said. "It was just one of those things where I put some bad swings on it and the ball didn't go in."