Indianapolis kicker Mike Vanderjagt entered the 2004 season opener with an astounding streak of 42 consecutive field goals – an NFL record.

The Cold, Hard Football Facts reveal that the streak began on December 22, 2002 in a regular season game against the New York Jets.

The Cold, Hard Football Facts reveal another, more remarkable aspect of the streak. Of all those consecutive field goals, not one (zero!) was a do-or-die kick.

Oh sure, Vanderjagt had some pretty impressive performances during the streak. Last season, in a 29-27 victory at Tennessee, Vanderjagt kicked five field goals. The last kick, however, came with more than 22 minutes left to play. There were also two game winners: a last-second field goal to lift Indy to a 9-6 win over Cleveland in the 2003 season-opener; and an overtime kick last season in a 38-35 Monday Night Football victory over Tampa Bay.

But not once during the streak was Vanderjagt called upon to save his team from certain defeat. Until last night. On the road. National television. Against the defending Super Bowl champions. Seconds left to play. His team trailing by 3 points. With the pressure ratcheted up more than it ever had been during the 42-kick streak, Vanderjagt shanked a 48-yard effort wide right. An easy kick for Vanderjagt when there's no pressure. In fact, he's routinely made kicks of more than 50 yards.

His nationally televised choke serves as a bit of poetic justice. You might remember that Vanderjagt made headlines at the end of the 2002 season. Following Indy's 41-0 playoff loss to the Jets, Vanderjagt called his team out, saying they were "soft" and flouting a time-honored NFL tradition among kickers of keeping your f**kin mouth shut after a crushing defeat. (Of course, he's Canadian. He may not be learned in the mysterious sporting ways of the American people).

It seems Vanderjagt has yet to learn his lesson. In fact, last night he spouted just a bit too much for a kicker who, called upon to save his team from certain defeat for the first time during his "streak," failed to come through.

First, Vanderjagt blamed his quarterback, Peyton Manning, for getting sacked on the play before his kick attempt. At the same time, he ripped the team that just beat him:

"A 34-yard [field goal] is guaranteed in this league by the field-goal kickers. I saw Willie (McGinest) coming and, obviously, Peyton didn't. They didn't dominate us and we didn't get it done. We played well, we're a better team than they are and we just didn't show it."

Then, when asked why he missed the field goal, he denied the obvious. He stumbled out of the car, puked on his shoes, and told the cop he wasn't drunk: "I didn't choke. I didn't feel nervous at all. It didn't go in. I'm not perfect, I guess, anymore."

The Cold, Hard Football Facts beg to differ. They insist that Vanderjagt is perfect this season: He's 0 for 1 with the game on the line.