the study of the kicking components within sports

Monday, October 10, 2011

NFL Week Five: Long Ball Sunday

Yesterday was all about long distance in the NFL. Ten successful field goals were made from 50+ yards. For stats junkies, that is over twice the average of 4.75 long field goals per week during the first four weeks of the season. Many of the long balls came off the feet of kicking veterans - such as Neil Rackers' 54 yarder and Jay Feely's 51 yarder, just to name two to get things rolling.

Perhaps not surprisingly, Sebastian Janikowski was the largest contributor to this week's total, with kicks of 54, 55 & 50 yards. Having already joined the record book earlier this year by tying the longest kicks ever of 63 yards, he now is tied with Morten Andersen, Neil Rackers, Kris Brown and Conner Barth for most (three) 50+ yarders in one game. He commented afterward:
"It was great. The big guy's [Al Davis] watching over us.... It means a lot. He's going to be missed. Now we can move on and win the championship."
Ryan Longwell hit a 53 yarder for the Vikings. Earlier in the week, he commented on long kicks and specifically whether Janikowski's and Jason Elam's record 63 yarders should have an asterisk placed beside them since they occurred in mile high Denver as compared to Tom Dempsey's 63 yarder kicked at sea level in New Orleans:
"They all count the same. I've hit what I thought were 63-yarders from 30 yards at Lambeau in the freezing cold in my career that felt just as good to me. So I think they all count, and they all should count."
In the dome in Indianapolis, Adam Vinatieri connected from 53 yards. In the days prior to the game, he had discussed why he likes his home field kicking environment:
"There's a lot to like here," Vinatieri said. "I like my teammates, and I like kicking at Lucas Oil, where I don't have to worry about rain and wind and a crummy field, and we have great fans cheering for us."
Although Seahawks kicker Steven Hauschka hit a 51 yarder yesterday, he was commenting on the other end of the spectrum earlier in the week, in an article questioning whether extra points should still be included in the game since they are very rarely missed these days:
“If you wanted to change the percentage considerably, you’d have to move it back to 30-35 yards in order to get it down near 90 percent.”
After hitting a 51 yarder for the Chargers, Nick Novak wasn't specifically discussing long or short kicks. He was discussing how it feels to once again be kicking in the NFL:
“It’s great. A couple weeks ago, I didn’t have a job, and now I’m part of something great.... It’s the maturation process. You’ve got to lick your wounds and go through the ups and downs of being an NFL kicker.”
Yesterday concluded with Packers' kicker Mason Crosby hitting a 56 yard field goal in the evening game. He specifically discussed that specific kick:
“It felt good coming off my foot. That’s one of those where you hit it, you turn and start celebrating pretty quick. Especially inside, if you feel good about it, it’s usually going to stay pretty true.”
Crosby specifically elaborated:
“We set the line before the game actually for a 58-yarder if need be. You usually set that line and don’t get an attempt from that distance. But it worked out and it was just kind of good timing. It was one of my better warmups today. I was just feeling good hitting the ball.... I’ve got to give the credit first to the guys in front of me, they’re making it easy … everything’s been right on the money. I’m just not having to think about any of that and just go out and hit the ball. It’s nice coming inside and being able to trust the conditions and go out there and hit four field goals. It seems like on the road we’re kicking a lot of field goals and scoring touchdowns at home. I’ve got to get them when I can.”

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