the study of the kicking components within sports

Monday, January 24, 2011

NFC Conference Championship Kicks

Two kicking story lines emerged from yesterday's NFC Championship game between the Chicago Bears and the Green Bay Packers. 

In both cases it was more about what didn't happen rather than what did happen.

What didn't happen? The kickers didn't attempt any field goals. Chicago did have two potential opportunities in the first half, however they opted to punt in each case, rather than trying field goals of 52 and 49 yards. As anticipated in the week leading up to the game, the weather played a factor. After the game, Robbie Gould discussed the decisions:
"The wind was blowing in my face. It could have gone either way. They made a decision to punt it, which I thought was a good decision, considering we’ve done a great job of putting them down inside the five and try to create a little more momentum for our defense and maybe create a turnover.... But you’ve got to play the percentages. I think it was a good call, I really do."
What else didn't happen? Feared return specialist Devin Hester didn't rip off any damaging punt returns - as the Packers coverage team kept him in check and punter Tim Masthay had a big game. Of the eight punts, five were downed inside the twenty yard line. Late in the game, with the Bears trying to rally, Masthay hit a well placed 58 yarder.
“I hit it pretty much on the button. It was a big play for us. Happy the guys got down and covered it great like they had all night. Flipped the field when we needed to."
Masthay's big game was even more impressive given the weather conditions:
“The wind was blowing right and that was the first punt. I didn’t hit it directionally like I wanted to. I still hit a decent ball but didn’t hit it as well directionally and the wind didn’t take it. That was kind of an example – a good hit that wound up in the middle and our guys covered really well."

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