the study of the kicking components within sports

Monday, September 20, 2010

NFL Week Two: Field Goals Aplenty, Changing Kickoffs, and a Touch of Ice

Six different kickers each made at least three field goals during the second week of NFL games. In all six cases, their team won the game. Six wins. No losses. So there you have it. Definitive proof that kicking is the most important aspect of football.
3 FGs, Sebastian Janikowski, Oakland
Janikowski made field goals of 38, 41 and 22 yards in the Raiders 16-14 win over St. Louis. The Raiders did not write or issue a post game transcript of any comments from Janikowski.

3 FGs, Ryan Succop, Kansas City
Succop made field goals of 35, 26 and 23 yards in the Chiefs 16-14 win over Cleveland. Although his placekicking accounted for the majority of his team points, afterward he spent more time discussing his other responsibility - kickoffs. This week he used a different technique in order to keep the ball out of the hands of Browns' returner Josh Cribbs:
"Obviously you want to go out there and pound the ball. That’s the first time I’ve really ever hit those mortar kicks. I’ve always been a guy who usually kicks deep. Obviously, with Cribbs and their return game, we felt like this gave us the best chance to win."
3 FGs Neil Rackers, Houston
Rackers made field goals of 47, 43 and 35 yards in the Texans 30-27 win over Washington. His final kick won it in overtime. If not for a last second timeout earlier in the extra period, Redskins kicker Graham Gano would have been listed here instead. He hit an apparent 52 yarder to win it, however Houston head coach Gary Kubiak "iced" him with a timeout just before the play got under way. Gano missed the subsequent re-kick. Afterward, Gano said of the two kicks:
“I could hear him blowing the whistle. I knew he was going to do it. Every coach does it. It was something we’d practiced the last two weeks. It’s to be expected.... I think I was a little too relaxed [on the re-kick]. I was as confident as ever, and I still am. But I kind of lifted my head up in excitement to see where the kick went, and that’s something that next time I’ll know not to do. It’s never good that it happens, but it’s good that it happens now rather than when we’re in the playoffs, and I’ll get another opportunity.”
"This means a lot. I've been working with these guys for six months now, and I've enjoyed the heck out of them. They're a hard-working ball club and it's nice to come through for them in a key situation.... I'm pretty sure I looked similar to a high school cheerleader. I ran around by myself for a second. It's real nice to have your teammates come over and congratulate you after a big win."
3 FGs, Garrett Hartley, New Orleans
Hartley made fields goals of 46, 19 and 37 yards in the Saints 25-22 win over San Francisco on Monday night. All three FGs came in the fourth quarter and the final one broke a tie as time expired. The defense got a hand on the final kick, as Hartley discussed afterward:
"I thought I made good contact with but when I heard the ball get tipped I just kept saying go, go, go. It wasn't the prettiest field goal but three points is three points."
4 FGs, Jeff Reed, Pittsburgh
Reed made field goals of 36, 34, 25 and 27 yards in the Steelers 19-11 win over Tennessee. Like Succop, Reed spent more time discussing his kickoffs than his many field goal attempts (nine in the first two games). Unlike Succop, Reed's changes in his kickoffs are permanent rather than a special tactic for one game.
"Coach Al [Everest, the special teams coordinator] is helping me change my steps. I was a little bit inconsistent with my steps. He was explaining the importance of the last three steps being your drive steps. I kind of start explosively instead of walking into it.... Most special-teams coaches don't know how to kick."
5 FGs, Mike Nugent, Cincinnati
Nugent made field goals of 36, 30, 46, 38 and 25 yards in the Bengals 15-10 win over Baltimore. What did his team mates think? Quarterback Carson Palmer commented (starting with kickoffs of course):
“He had a couple of huge kickoffs where he kicked the ball out of the back of the end zone and didn’t give them a chance to return it. He’s been a great kicker since he’s been in the league. He’s just had some issues with injuries, and now we’ve got him here and he’s healthy.... He hit five today. Five for five. That’s big-time. We expect that of him. We gave him some chances where they were makeable. We didn’t stick him out there with a 55-yarder and then give their team field position. We gave him chances once we got close to the red zone and inside the red zone. He just did a great job of putting them in.”

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