the study of the kicking components within sports

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Overtime Unkicked

When Walter Camp devised the first scoring system for American football in 1883, field goals were valued at five points, touchdowns at two points, and conversions after touchdowns at four points. These gradually changed in the several decades thereafter. Kicking results were further diminished by other rules changes over the years - narrowing of the goalposts, shifting the goalposts back, and the infamous K-ball.

Although perhaps not as drastic as the prior changes, the most recent rule change to devalue kicking goes into effect this weekend in the NFL. If a playoff game goes into overtime, a field goal scored on the opening possession of the extra period is no longer a certain game winner. The game would continue with the other team getting an opportunity to score.

Several current NFL players recently commented on the new rule.

Nick Folk, New York Jets
"I think it’s going to change the offense and how you call plays when you get down there. You can’t just be conservative and kick a field goal. If you score a touchdown, you win. I think that’s going to be the new thought and you won’t see as many long kicks in overtime.... It’s a whole different dynamic."

Robbie Gould, Chicago Bears
"It takes away from the walk-off home run, so to speak, in the NFL. You have to make the adjustment and every kick counts.... You might see a couple of extra onside kicks. You have to approach it the same way (during the opening drive of overtime). You have to take the points and hopefully your defense stops them."

Jay Feely, Arizona Cardinals
" I don't believe in de-emphasizing the kicking game. Why change the inherent rules and strategy of the game for the playoffs?"

Olindo Mare, Seattle Seahawks
"Every kick that I kick, first quarter or last quarter, they're all three points, so it's not like you pick and choose which kick is more important. To me, they're all game winners.... It really doesn't matter, to be honest with you. All kicks are going to count for three points, so it's not going to affect anything I do whatsoever."

Adam Vinatieri, Indianapolis Colts
"I'm not a fan of it to be honest with you. It just takes us [kickers] out of the mix a little bit more....
Well, you know, special teams is a third of the game. A lot of times [the league doesn't] look at it that way, but it really is. And that is the way I feel. I feel kickers and punters and returners and all the specialists are just as important as any other position out there."

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