the study of the kicking components within sports

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

NFL Week 11: If At First You Don't Succeed...

San Diego has struggled on special teams this year, however they provided a big play early in the Monday Night game. During the first quarter they picked up a first down on a fake punt when punter Mike Scifres completed a 28 yard pass to RB Mike Tolbert.
"I’ve thrown a couple since I’ve been here, but they weren’t very pretty. This was by far the prettiest of the three....
Jake [Jacob Hester] thought the look was there and, luckily, we took it. Tolbert’s the first option. At first, the guy kinda grabbed Mike and he didn’t get out as free as we’d hoped. I didn’t have a second read, so fortunately, he got off the guy....
It’s been a tough first nine weeks, but I always said we had the group of guys to get in there and make the plays and make things happen. That happened tonight."
While they still have a long way to go to catch up the the Chargers in terms on number of long snappers utilized this year, the Saints are gaining ground. This week they signed Justin Drescher, who replaces Jake Ingram, who late last week replaced Jason Kyle, who was placed on injured reserve with a shoulder injury. New Orleans head coach Sean Payton discussed the initial move:
"Obviously, when we are working out long snappers on Saturday, we are caught off guard. I'm still going through myself the time frame of how we arrive on a Saturday workout with three guys in the building that I've never met or seen before, and one is going to long snap in this game. It's not a situation you want to be in."
Late in the game at New England, trailing by three points, Indianapolis was driving. It seemed almost inevitable that Adam Vinatieri - who knows a thing or two about clutch kicking - would get a chance to tie the game against his former team. However:
"It is a lot of emotion. It was a tough way to lose. Watching the [Colts] drive down the field and thinking about a game-tying field goal against the Patriots . . . and then the interception and it's over."
One player that did get plenty of kicks was Washington's Graham Gano. In fact he got six field goal opportunities, making four of them. He hit a 40 yarder in the third quarter to tie the game and then a 42 yarder in the fourth quarter to again tie the game. One of the misses came on the final play of regulation with the game still tied. He came up short on a 47 yard attempt. His long snapper, Nick Sundberg, commented on the play:
"That was a nasty wind. The ball was about two-thirds of the way there, and I was like, 'It's in,' and then all of a sudden it was like, 'Whoop'.... But we have to have a real short memory. If you start dwelling on previous things, that's when you start going downhill."
Gano would get another chance in overtime, and this time he was good from 48 yards. His holder, punter Hunter Smith, commented:
"I've held for a couple of the best to ever play [Adam Vinatieri and Mike Vanderjagt]. I don't know that a lot of people get it around here, in our reality, but good kickers - great kickers - miss lots of kicks. They just do. They miss game-winners. They miss kicks to push it into overtime. It just happens. But if you stick beside a guy, and give them some time to develop, they'll still miss kicks down the road, but what you're trying to find is someone who would be consistent 85 percent of the time. That's what we've got here. Graham is going to be really, really good."

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