‘Money Badger’ Michael Badgley continues to make clutch kicks for Chargers

BALTIMORE — Los Angeles Chargers kicker Michael Badgley is playing postseason football in January for the first time, and enjoying every minute of it.

“It’s the playoffs,” Badgley said. “During the regular season, every point matters. But in the playoffs they matter even more. With the team we’ve got, as long as I can go out there and get my side of the job done, we’re definitely a threat, so it’s awesome.”

An undrafted rookie out of the University of Miami, Badgley at this time last year was beginning his pre-draft preparation.

But fast forward to this year, and Badgley has been the soothing balm to the Chargers’ kicking woes.

In his latest effort, Badgley buried a franchise postseason-record five field goals, including a long of 53 yards, in his team’s 23-17 win over the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday. He’ll be called on again this Sunday when the Chargers play at the New England Patriots in a division-round game.

“I’m not surprised by his play at all,” Chargers defensive end Isaac Rochell said. “I’ve had confidence in him all season. I respect him, and I’m happy for him.”

With the Chargers spinning through six kickers since the start of the 2017 season, Badgley has brought stability to the position since taking over for Caleb Sturgis midway through the season.

In 10 regular-season games, Badgley made 15 of 16 field goals (94 percent), including a franchise-long 59-yarder in a Week 14 contest against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Badgley also made 27 of 28 extra points (96.4 percent). His 94 percent field goal percentage set a single-season record for best in franchise history with at least 15 made field goals.

Because of his clutch performances, Badgley earned the nickname the “Money Badger” from Chargers fans on Twitter.

“I have a lot of confidence in that young man because he has a lot of confidence in himself,” Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn said.

Badgley said one of the reasons for his success is the meaningful relationships he’s quickly developed in the locker room, starting with veteran punter Donnie Jones and long-snapper Mike Windt, and expanding to the rest of the team.

“Just in the locker room, becoming friends with everybody,” Badgley said. “And then when I go out there and get the extra point or the field goal, that makes more of a difference than a lot of people know.

“So it’s awesome with the locker room and camaraderie we’ve got with the whole team. It starts day one when you first get in. You have no idea, but you’re looking around like, ‘Oh, there’s Philip [Rivers] and there’s Antonio [Gates].’ It’s one of those things where you want to just make the kicks and develop trust.”

Chargers running back Melvin Gordon says he treats Badgley like one of the guys.

“I’m really good with the special-teams guys,” Gordon said. “My locker is usually right next to theirs, so I’ve always been good with them since my college years. But I’m happy that we have somebody here that we can count on.”

With the way he’s performed, players like Rivers say Badgley has earned their trust.

“He was really great today,” Rivers said. “He made some tough kicks. We had so many guys contribute today. Uchenna Nwosu made a big play with that strip sack in the final minute, and Antonio Gates stepped up with two, big third-down receptions.

“Just so many guys stepped up to do their job, it’s a fun team to be a part of.”

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