the study of the kicking components within sports

Monday, January 3, 2011

NFL Week 17: Clutch & Touch(back)

Among active kickers, Adam Vinatieri was the name most often mentioned as being Pro Football Hall of Fame worthy when we discussed the topic last August. Not necessarily because of his productivity or longevity, although he has now scored 1659 points during his 15 years in the NFL. Not necessarily because of his accuracy, although his career field goal percentage of 82.7% is presently 12th all-time. He's continually mentioned because he's been clutch when it matters most. 

Although his 43 yard game winner as time expired in the Colts 23-20 win over the Titans yesterday wasn't quite as big as his playoff and Super Bowl kicks with the Patriots, it was clutch nonetheless.
"That distance is well within pretty much every kicker's range. There is no such thing as an easy game-winner at any distance. But it worked out pretty good."
Field goal productivity and accuracy typically are the primary factor for a kicker to land in the Pro Bowl. Although Billy Cundiff's 26 of 29 on field goals this year is certainly productive and accurate, it was not necessarily the main reason he was named the AFC kicker for this year's Pro Bowl. The bigger story all year was his kickoffs. Yesterday he raised season total of touchbacks to 40, tying the league record set by Mitch Berger in 1994.
"It's really strange to put the ball on the tee and have everybody go, 'OK, we want this touchback'. I think they wanted it more than I did....
Obviously, I wish I would have broken it, right? I kind of felt like I left two kicks out there," he said. "I just didn't get through them as much as I would have liked. Still, if you would have taken me [aside] at the last game of the season last year and talked [to] me about if I would be disappointed that I only got two touchbacks and I'm playing at the end of the season this year, I think that's a good progression for me as kicker. It's exciting."

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