By Conrad Clowers
Herald Sports Writer
At some point in a game there’s a chance there is going to be a task Joe Borrow cant do. It’s going to come down to more than a fake Ja’marr Chase can give or a tackle Logan Wilson can make. Evan McPherson has a talent no other Bengal has. He can kick. He not only can kick, but he’s very good at it. He’s become one of the NFL’s best and most accurate kickers.
The Bengals knew who McPherson was and his reputation in college. The second year Bengal was known for making very long field goals. It was just the type of kicker the Bengals had yearned for. Going back to his high school days in Fort Payne, Alabama, McPherson made a 60-yard field goal. Based upon his play, he became first team all-state. McPherson went on to Florida. After making 51 of 60 field goals and setting a Southeastern Conference record for career field goal percentage in just 3 years, he did the rare task of skipping his senior year as a kicker to enter the NFL draft.
The Cincinnati Bengal didn’t wait for free agency. The Bengals took McPherson in the 5th round of the 2021 draft. He ended up shining as a rookie, making 28 of 33 field goals (85%). Amazingly, the new Bengals kicker was 9 of 11 kicks from 50 yards or more last season.
There is a long line of great Bengal kickers, such as Mike Nugent, Doug Pelfrey, Jim Breech, and even way back to the days in the early Bengals 1970’s of Horst Muhlmann.
Let’s face it. Kickers never will get the respect of other position players. They’re taken for granted. After a touchdown, it’s assumed they are going to make the extra point. When a game tying or winning field goal is on the line at the end of the game, nobody can be a bigger hero or bigger villain on a football field than a field goal kicker. McPherson has taken his share of simmering heat with the Bengals. During the Super Bowl McPherson was criticized for coming out to watch the halftime show, headlined by Mary J Blige, featuring Snoop Dog, 50 Cent, and Emenim. The Bengals ultimately lost the Super Bowl and the minor controversy blew over. It’s amazing how some controversies flame out when you’re good at what you do.
Cincy is currently tied for first place. McPherson is getting a bigger and bigger name around the NFL. Justin Tucker of the Baltimore Ravens may be the NFL’s gold standard of kickers, but McPherson is not far away. Nobody knows better than head coach Zac Taylor that you are nearly guaranteed 3 points if you make it to the 45 yard line or closer. It’s a luxury the Bengals have never had.