Not only did Drew Brees take Zach Hocker off the hook, he did it quickly enough and heroically enough that Hocker’s miss might fade from memory.
Hocker had a chance to end last night’s game with the Cowboys in regulation, but he bounced a 30-yard field goal attempt with 16 seconds left off the left upright, forcing Brees to win it himself with an 80-yard touchdown seconds later in overtime.
“It’s unacceptable,” Hocker said, via Christopher Dabe of the New Orleans Times-Picayune. “The win feels great.
“It definitely never feels good when you can put your team over the edge, get the walk-off ‘W.’ There’s absolutely no excuse for it.”
Hocker had hit game-tying field goals from 51 and 29 before the fateful clank, one he couldn’t blame on the snap, hold or weather — “I just hit a bad ball,” he said.
It’s the third miss of the season, including a dropped hold on a PAT kick last week.
“We were fortunate to avoid losing on a game like that, where you lose it on a pretty makable field goal,” Saints coach Sean Payton said. “We were setting it up on the left hash. All the spots that we feel we’re comfortable kicking in a game.”
“We got to clean up that operation, because it’s three now. . . .We’ll look at that when we get started up again this week.”
Of course, the rash of high-profile misses around the league might make it hard for the Saints to line up a workout if they wanted to (the kicker bus is definitely going to be rolling around the league this week). But Hocker can at least point to his emergency punting duties as a positive, after Thomas Morstead was injured.
“They called my number and I was excited to go out there and do it,” Hocker said. “Thankfully we got one punt off that was a good punt. But my job is to make field goals, too. So that’s going to be nagging at me for a while. . . .
“I’ve made game-winners before. It’s just unfortunate.”
At least he had Brees on his side, as his sore-armed quarterback bailed him out with a play Saints fans will be talking about for years to come, an 80-yard touchdown pass to C.J. Spiller which brought overtime to a thunderous end.