the study of the kicking components within sports

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

NFL Week Two: To Kick Or Not To Kick

Every year there are always several coaching decisions regarding potential field goal attempts that are scrutinized in hindsight. This week featured three such occurrences.

Dallas at San Francisco
The situation: David Akers hits a 55 yard field goal to put the 49ers ahead 24-14 with 11:16 remaining in the fourth quarter. There is a 15 yard penalty on the Cowboys during the kick.

The decision and result: rather than accept the penalty and bring the offense back on the field, San Francisco opts to keep the three points on the board and take the 15 yard on the ensuing kickoff. Dallas would go on to tie the game and then win it on a field goal in overtime.

49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh said:
“The thinking about it at the time was, had the two-score advantage at that point, felt that we would be able to get off the field and that would lead to a victory."
Cincinnati at Denver
The situation: The Bengals trailed 22-24 with 3:09 remaining in the game. They have the ball, 4th down and 1 yard to go on the Broncos 36 yard line.

The decision and result: Instead of a 54 yard field goal attempt by Mike Nugent, the offense runs a passing play which is incomplete. The score holds and the Broncos win the game.

Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis said:
"You had a big wind. I don’t know if you noticed the wind yesterday, but it changed seven or eight times during the game. It changed at halftime from when we came on the field to when they kicked off. There were a lot of big changes (in the wind). We had a lot of confidence that we could make the first down on offense. We went for two because I felt like we could make it. You can sit here in hindsight and (second guess).
If we would’ve made the first down, would you have asked me if why I didn’t kick the field goal? I didn’t think so. That’s kind of petty to come back and ask questions like that afterward. I thought only people there did that. But we had a lot of confidence in making it, and we didn’t make it. Looking at it now, the best thing to do would’ve been to punt it."
Baltimore at Tennessee
The situation: the Ravens trailed 10-23 with 7:03 remaining in the game. They have the ball 4th down and goal at the 11 yard line.

The decision and result: rather than trying for a touchdown to pull within a score, they opt for a 29 yard field goal, which Billy Cundiff makes. The Titans subsequently score a field goal and win 26-13.

Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said:
"It was fourth-and-what from the what? The percentages aren’t really good. So I figured, let’s get the three [points] right here. We’ve got about seven minutes left, we have all our timeouts. [We can] kick it down there, try to get a stop, and we’ve got enough time. If it had been fourth-and-six at the goal, then you’re going for it. My thought was to go for it, but it got to be fourth and 11. That was a little too desperate. You can probably make a case the other way, but I don’t know how better a case it would be."

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