the study of all things kicker related

Thursday, January 30, 2014

SB XLVIII MVP Sneak Preview

Who will be the MVP of this year's Super Bowl: Aaron Brewer, Clint Gresham, Britton Colquitt, Jon Ryan, Matt Prater or Steven Hauschka? We asked kickers, punters, snappers, and coaches that very question.

"I think Matt Prater will cap off his already amazing season, including his 64 yard NFL record long field goal, with a game winner and be this year's Super Bowl MVP!  But I'm actually pulling for the Seahawks :)"

Ryan Donahue, Detroit Lions 2011
"In order for Seattle to control this game from a defensive standpoint, Jon Ryan needs to continually pin Denver deep.  That means HANGTIME and DIRECTION to keep the ball away from the dangerous returner Holliday. We've even seen Decker and Welker returning punts, so there is no shortage of talent on this unit. My pick to click will be Jon Ryan. A seasoned veteran who will be the game changer."

Chris Husby, Special Teams Football Academy
"Matt Prater -  He's going to have a big game with at least three field goals."

Geoff Boyer, former Albany Panthers kicker
"Either Matt Prater or Steven Hauschka. This game will come down to a game winning field goal."

Michael Husted, NFL kicker 1993-2002, National Camp Series
"Steven Hauschka as he will go 5-5 including a game winning 45 yard field goal on the last play of the game."

Brian Jackson, Team Jackson Kicking
"I believe Steven Hauschka will be a big factor in this game and could earn the Specialist MVP. He has been quietly successful all season going 33/35 on FG's, perfect on all 44 PAT's and a long of 53 yards. He also has been perfect in post season going 6/6 on FG's and made his 4 PAT's. He has a calm demeanor and is due for a big time kick(s) in his career."

Rob Maver, Calgary Stampeders punter
"Gotta give some love to my fellow Canadian, Jon Ryan. Their efficiency on punt team this season has been incredible."

Nick Novak, San Diego Chargers kicker
"Matt Prater , it's going to be a true Michael Jordan moment with flu and all four field goals in the snow last one to win."

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

A History of Super Bowl Kicks

Kickers have contributed some big plays (mostly good, although a few not-quite-so-good) over the history of the Super Bowl:

II - Green Bay 33, Oakland 14
Packers kicker Don Chandler made four field goals (tied for most in one Super Bowl game).

IV - Kansas City 23, Minnesota 7
The Chiefs built a 16-0 lead by half time, including three field goals by Jan Stenerud.

V - Baltimore 16, Dallas 13
In a game dominated by defense and eleven turnovers, the Colts won in the final seconds on kicker Jim O'Brien's 32 yard field goal.

VII - Miami 14, Washington 7
Despite a highly successful NFL career, Dolphins kicker Garo Yepremian is often remembered by many for his ill-fated pass attempt that resulted in the Redskins' only score of the game.

XVI - San Francisco 26, Cincinnati 21
49ers kicker Ray Wersching made four field goals (tied for most in one Super Bowl game).

XXV - NY Giants 20, Buffalo 19
Giants kicker Matt Bahr made what would prove to be a game winning 21 yard field in the fourth quarter. But the kick that will always be remembered is the 47 yard field goal attempt with eight seconds remaining by Bills kicker Scott Norwood. It was "wide right".

XXVIII - Dallas 30, Buffalo 13
Steve Christie's 54 yard field goal was and remains the longest in Super Bowl History.

XXXII - Denver 31, Green Bay 24
Jason Elam's 51 yard field goal  was and remains the second longest in Super Bowl History.

XXXVI - New England 20, St. Louis 17
Kicker Adam Vinatieri made a 48 yard field goal on the final play of the game to give the Patriots their first title.

XXXVIII - New England 32, Carolina 29
Further cementing his "clutch" legend, Patriots kicker Adam Vinatieri hit a 41 yard game winning field goal with four seconds remaining.

XLIV - New Orleans 31, Indianapolis 17
Trailing 10-6 at halftime, the Saints decided to start the second half with an onside kick by Thomas Morstead. It worked.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Montana State Bobcats Kicker, Punter & Snapper News 2014


January 26th - kicker Trevin Thompson commits
"I did grow up a Griz fan, but when I was a freshman or a sophomore and I knew it would be the Griz or the Cats as the main teams that wanted me, you can’t really start favoring a school,' Thompson said. Thompson blossomed into the top kicking prospect in the state his junior year. Scholarship offers came from both schools. The 5-foot-11, 185-pound right-footed kicker took a visit to Missoula the third weekend in January and enjoyed himself. After spending the most recent weekend in Bozeman, Thompson knew the right fit for him. Thompson will be a Montana State Bobcat. He gave his verbal commitment to the MSU coaching staff on Sunday morning....  Thompson will have his tuition paid for two academic years with the promise of more scholarship aid as soon as he hits the playing field. MSU had junior Trevor Bolton, a Great Falls native who hosted Thompson on his visit, and freshman Luke Daly, a 2013 redshirt from Billings, on its current roster. Rory Perez, MSU’s place kicker the last two seasons and punter the last four, graduated.... Thompson broke seven school records his senior year for the Bengals. Thompson scored 179 points in his illustrious career and set school records for PATs in a season and a career, field goals in a game, season and career and points in a season and a career. Many of the Bengal records Thompson broke belonged to former University of Montana All-America kicker Dan Carpenter, now a six-year NFL veteran. Thompson has range out to 55 and even 60 yards, although his career long in a game is 43 yards." - Bobcat Nation

Sunday, January 26, 2014

RBS 6 Nations: The Kickers - 2014

American football reaches it's annual pinnacle this weekend with the spectacle known as the Super Bowl. One of the games ancestors, rugby, is also in the spotlight this weekend as the Six Nations Championship kicks off. Like football, rugby diminished but did not eliminate the element of kicking. The feet of the following players could play a significant role in this year's tournament.


Leigh Halfpenny, Wales
"Leigh Halfpenny has declared his ambition to remain a contender for international honours with Wales after announcing his decision to play for Toulon from next season. The Wales and British and Irish Lion full-back says his move from the Cardiff Blues to Heineken Cup Champions Toulon is the right decision at this stage of his career. 'Having taken time to consider every option in detail, I believe the decision to move to Toulon is the best decision for me and my continued development as a rugby player and as a person,' said Halfpenny.... 'Toulon are fully supportive of my international desires and duties and I would like to thank them for this as it was an important factor in my decision'." - Planet Rugby
Owen Farrell, England
"The 22-year-old's steely resolve was evident in last autumn's QBE International against Australia, in which he scored 15 points as England prevailed 20-13. Just as impressive as his points haul was his recovery from a challenging spell when he missed three successive penalties and showed hesitancy on the ball to spearhead the fightback. It was exactly the temperament that England view as indispensable and the Saracens outside-half admits his mindset was shaped almost from the start. 'Keeping it together is something I learned pretty early on - when I started playing,' he said. 'Why should you let it affect you? You've got to move on. There's too much to focus on in terms of your next job. If you're focusing on what has just happened then you're not going to have a grip on the game and that's what a fly-half's job is. Irrespective of how a kick went, you've got to back yourself and go again. You've got to have a clear head and think about what went wrong, but then you've got to put it behind you and move on. I just get on with it'." - Daily Mail
Jonathan Sexton, Ireland
"Jonny Sexton has left his Racing Métro teammates and supporters wanting more as he signed off for Six Nations duty in style. The Ireland out-half put in an inspirational 74 minute shift for the Parisian side this afternoon as they rediscovered the winning touch at home and climbed into the Top 14′s Heineken Cup slots. Racing put four-time European champions Toulouse to the sword and recorded a much-needed 25-5 win. Sexton opened the scoring after five minutes at Stade Francais as he chased after a Jacques Cronje charge-down on a Lionel Beauxis clearance attempt. He converted his score to make it 7-0. The former Leinster man turned provider soon after as he drew his man and teed up teammate Mike Phillips for a relatively simple score. The move was sparked by a brilliant intercept and break by winger Marc Andreu. Additional penalties from Sexton made it 18-0 on the half-hour mark." - The Score
Greig Laidlaw, Scotland
"Scotland scrum-half Greig Laidlaw will head into this year's RBS 6 Nations determined to banish the disappointment of Sunday's Heineken Cup thrashing at Munster. The Edinburgh Rugby captain was left reeling after his side were beaten 38-6 in Limerick, in what was Laidlaw's final match before the 2014 tournament kicks off. The 28-year-old, who has also featured at fly-half for Scotland, could not prevent Edinburgh from slipping out of contention for a place in the Amlin Challenge Cup quarter finals. And, after a break from competitive rugby next weekend, Laidlaw will return to Ireland for Scotland's RBS 6 Nations opener in search of a different outcome." - RBS 6 Nations
Morgan Parra, Maxime Machenaud & Jean-Marc Doussain, France
"Preferred at scrum-half were Maxime Machenaud and Jean-Marc Doussain as Parra continues to fight his way back from a knee injury sustained in the autumn. When asked if Parra could still play a role in the tournament however Saint-Andrew only replied: 'We will see'. But the former Sale head coach is confident that his squad have more than enough cover for the 25-year-old Parra, whose trusty left boot has helped him to 320 career international points. 'Morgan was still a replacement (Sunday's European Cup game between his side Clermont and Racing-Metro), he is still making his way back, and has not yet achieved his goal of being fully match fit,' said Saint-Andre. 'For the moment, we have Maxime Machenaud and Jean-Marc Doussain. We have confidence in both of them'." - RBS 6 Nations
Mirco Bergamasco, Tommaso Allan & Luciano Orquera, Italy
"Mirco Bergamasco's international career looked to be over after the 30-year-old fractured his kneecap during a Test against Australia in November of 2012. Surgery and a long recovery period followed for the experienced Italian winger. Bergamasco suffered another setback last summer when French club Racing Metro, whom he had joined in 2010 from rivals Stade Francais, decided not to offer him a contract extension. While his move to Italian outfit Rovigo in July was a step back in his club career, it served as a platform to return to the national team just six months later.
'coach Jacques Brunel told me that the door of the national team is always open and that it depended on me,' Bergamasco said." - The Independent

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Top Scoring Kickers in AFC South History

The top five career scoring kickers for each team in the AFC South:

Houston Texans
  1.   767  Kris Brown
  2.   259  Neil Rackers
  3.   138  Shayne Graham
  4.   104  Randy Bullock (thru 2013)
Indianapolis Colts
  1.   995  Mike Vanderjagt
  2.   848  Adam Vinatieri (thru 2013)
  3.   783  Dean Biasucci
  4.   586  Lou Michaels
  5.   394  Toni Linhart
Jacksonville Jaguars
  1.   939  Josh Scobee (thru 2013)
  2.   764  Mike Hollis
  3.     90  Seth Marler
  4.     47  John Carney
  5.     35  Tim Seder
Tennessee Titans 
  1. 1060  Al Del Greco
  2. 1032  Rob Bironas (thru 2013)
  3.   598  George Blanda (also includes four rushing TDs)
  4.   548  Tony Zendejas
  5.   392  Toni Fritsch

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Top Scoring Kickers in NFC West History

The top five career scoring kickers for each team in the NFC West:

Arizona Cardinals
  1. 1380  Jim Bakken
  2.   699  Neil Rackers
  3.   474  Greg Davis
  4.   439  Neil O'Donoghue
  5.   424  Jay Feely (thru 2013)
San Francisco 49ers
  1.   979  Ray Wersching
  2.   738  Tommy Davis
  3.   673  Mike Cofer
  4.   644  Gordie Soltau
  5.   541  Joe Nedney
Seattle Seahawks
  1.   810  Norm Johnson
  2.   571  Josh Brown
  3.   555  Todd Peterson
  4.   370  Steven Hauschka (thru 2013)
  5.   341  John Kasay
St. Louis Rams
  1. 1223  Jeff Wilkins
  2.   789  Mike Lansford
  3.   573  Bob Waterfield (also includes 13 rushing TDs)
  4.   571  Bruce Gossett
  5.   497  David Ray

Monday, January 13, 2014

And the winners are... Nadine Angerer & Cristiano Ronaldo

Zurich was the setting for this year's FIFA Ballon d’Or Gala. It culminated with the winners of the 2013 FIFA player awards...

Women’s World Player of Year: Nadine Angerer 
'Das Jahr 2013 ist definitiv ein Jahr, das Nadine Angerer so schnell nicht vergessen wird. Mit der deutschen Nationalmannschaft feierte sie in Schweden den sechsten Europameistertitel in Folge und hatte dabei großen Anteil am Erfolg. Im Finale gegen Norwegen hielt die Nationaltorhüterin zwei Elfmeter und wurde aufgrund ihrer Leistungen zur "Spielerin des Turniers" gewählt, wenig später durfte sich Angerer über die Auszeichnung als "Europas Fussballerin des Jahres" freuen.'
"I have to say that I'm a little surprised, but very thankful. First of all I have to thank everybody that voted for me. I just want to pay my respects to Marta and Abby who have had an incredible year too. 
 
You never get a success like this on your own. I have to thank my teammates and my goalkeeping coach who raised me to a level that I never thought I'd get to. Also I have to thank the people in my private life, I have a great family who have been a great support to me over the years. My friends have also been very supportive to me. Thanks to everybody."
Ballon d'Or: Cristiano Ronaldo
'O ano de 2013 foi, como sempre, recheado de golos para Cristiano Ronaldo. O astro português terminou o ano com qualquer coisa como 69 golos marcados: 59 pelo Real Madrid e 10 pela seleção portuguesa. Sempre ao mais alto nível pelo Real Madrid e por Portugal, o avançado, que venceu o prémio de Melhor Jogador do FIFA Ballon d’Or de 2008, é cada vez mais um símbolo dos Merengues, e por isso não admirou que tivesse renovado o contrato com o clube até 2018 e que até pondere acabar a carreira no gigante madrileno.'

"First of all I have to say a great thanks to all of my team-mates with the club and the national team. Without all of their efforts this would not have been possible. I am very happy, it is very difficult to win this award.

Everybody that has been involved with me on a personal level I have to thank. My wife, my friends, my son. It is a tremendously emotional moment. All I can say is thank you to everybody that has been involved."

College All-Star Games 2013-2014: The Specialists

A few more opportunities to see your favorite college kickers, punters and snappers in action.

Medal of Honor Bowl: January 11th
  • American kicker/punter Michael Palardy, Tennessee
  • American long snapper Marcus Woodside-Heit, Kansas State
  • National kicker Drew Basil, Ohio State
  • National punter Paul Layton, Temple
  • National long snapper Tanner Hedstrom, Colorado State
East-West Shrine Game: January 18th
  • East kicker Zach Hocker, Arkansas
  • West kicker Anthony Fera, Texas
  • East punter Steven Clark, Auburn
  • West punter Richie Leone, Houston
NFLPA Collegiate Bowl: January 18th
  • National long snapper Trevor Gillette, Rice
  • American long snapper Chris Maikranz, Lamar
  • National kicker Cairo Santos, Tulane
  • American kicker Vincenzo D'Amato, California
  • National punter Tom Hornsey, Memphis
  • American punter Tyler Campbell, Mississippi
Senior Bowl: January 25th
  • South kicker Cody Parkey, Auburn
  • North kicker Chris Boswell, Rice
  • North punter Kirby Van Der Camp, Iowa State
  • South punter Cody Mandell, Alabama
  • South long snapper Marcus Woodside-Heit, Kansas State
  • North long snapper Tyler Ott, Harvard
College All-Star Bowl: February 14th
  • kicker/punter Ray Early, Furman
  • kicker/punter Nick Belcher, South Carolina State
  • long snapper Greg Parcher, Maryland
  • long snapper Phillip Fajgenbaum, Clemson
As always, if we missed anything, feel free to let us know!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Top Scoring Kickers in AFC North History

The top five career scoring kickers for each team in the AFC North:

Baltimore Ravens
  1. 1464  Matt Stover
  2.   294  Billy Cundiff
  3.   272  Justin Tucker (thru 2013)
  4.     57  Steven Hauschka
  5.       8  Shayne Graham
Cincinnati Bengals
  1. 1151  Jim Breech
  2.   779  Shayne Graham
  3.   660  Doug Pelfrey
  4.   549  Horst Muhlmann
  5.   392  Mike Nugent (thru 2013)
Cleveland Browns
  1. 1608  Lou Groza
  2. 1271  Phil Dawson
  3. 1080  Don Cockroft
  4.   677  Matt Bahr
  5.   480  Matt Stover
Pittsburgh Steelers
  1. 1343  Gary Anderson 
  2.   919  Jeff Reed
  3.   731  Roy Gerela
  4.   452  Norm Johnson
  5.   413  Shaun Suisham (thru 2013)

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Top Scoring Kickers in NFC South History

The top five career scoring kickers for each team in the NFC South:

Atlanta Falcons
  1.   806  Morten Andersen
  2.   558  Mick Luckhurst
  3.   539  Matt Bryant (thru 2013)
  4.   436  Jay Feely
  5.   395  Norm Johnson
Carolina Panthers
  1. 1482  John Kasay
  2.   161  Graham Gano (thru 2013)
  3.   110  Olindo Mare
  4.     98  Joe Nedney
  5.     60  Shayne Graham
New Orleans Saints
  1. 1318  Morten Andersen
  2.   768  John Carney
  3.   513  Doug Brien
  4.   422  Garrett Hartley
  5.   243  Charlie Durkee 
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  1.   592  Martin Gramatica
  2.   502  Michael Husted
  3.   416  Matt Bryant
  4.   416  Donald Igwebuike
  5.   383  Connor Barth (thru 2013)

Top Scoring Kickers in AFC East History

The top five career scoring kickers for each team in the AFC East:

Buffalo Bills
  1. 1011  Steve Christie
  2.   980  Rian Lindell
  3.   670  Scott Norwood
  4.   369  John Leypoldt
  5.   239  Nick Mike-Mayer
Miami Dolphins
  1. 1048  Olindo Mare
  2.   830  Garo Yepremian
  3.   774  Pete Stoyanovich
  4.   540  Uwe von Schamann
  5.   535  Dan Carpenter
New England Patriots
  1. 1158  Adam Vinatieri
  2. 1130  Gino Cappelletti (also includes 42 receiving TDs)
  3. 1023  Stephen Gostkowski (thru 2013)
  4.   692  John Smith
  5.   442  Tony Franklin
New York Jets
  1. 1470  Pat Leahy
  2.   697  Jim Turner
  3.   652  John Hall
  4.   447  Nick Folk (thru 2013)
  5.   308  Mike Nugent

Monday, January 6, 2014

Athletic Kicking


Over the years, we asked numerous kickers to name one thing about being a kicker that most people probably don't realize. 

A common theme emerged among their answers... 

"In game situations, you have to be an athlete and want the ball. If you don’t like pressure and don’t want the ball at the end, you’re not going to have much success on game winning kicks." - Robbie Gould

"How hard we work out for our job. And how much pressure there really is on every time we go out on the field...not just those last second kicks." - Ryan Longwell

"Kickers have to run and lift like everyone else. We cannot just walk out every year and kick without training." - Mason Crosby

"I don't think the average fan realizes the amount of strength it takes to hit a kick-off 70 yards or make a 50-yard field goal. We are considered by most to be non-athletes, but everyone I've ever taken out onto the field to watch me kick first-hand leaves with a different perspective. We make it look easy, but it's not." - Joe Nedney

"The preparation. People feel like you can kind of just go out there and do it every week. People don’t realize how much we practice, and how pinpoint our accuracy and everything has to be from the snap to the hold to the kick. People think that we can just go out there and every kick should be just automatic. But there’s a ton of things that go into it from the line blocking to the snap and the hold and the kick. I’d say preparation is one thing that people don’t understand how much we do for practicing the field goal. That’s probably the big thing because I think a lot of people fell that we can just go out there and do it and that it’s one of the easier jobs. But actually we prepare pretty hard to make those field goals on Sunday." - Connor Barth

"Kickers are really good athletes. If you start looking in the NFL and start looking at the backgrounds of some of these guys, the kickers and punters are not these tiny, non-athletic players anymore. It’s not like the days of the past. Guys were all-state in other sports, as well as football, when they were in high school. This idea that guys are a kicker because they can’t do anything else is nonsense. Most of the players happen to fall into kicking because they’re competitive athletes and they just happen to be pretty good at kicking. It wasn’t that they couldn’t do anything else and kicking was the only option." - Billy Cundiff

"You hear the comment ‘you are just a kicker’ and that gets frustrating. I wouldn’t say anything to the person who said that to me because I have heard it a million times in my life. I work out just as hard as the (other) guys and I train just as much as the guys. I don’t train for speed, I train for leg speed. I am not going to beat Ike Taylor in a 40-yard dash, I’m not going to out-lift James Harrison and I am not going to out-throw Ben (Roethlisberger), but I work out just as hard as those guys because I realize it is hard to get to the NFL, and it is hard to stay here. I think people have a misperception that kickers are outcasts and are the nerd football players. I am a football player who happens to be a kicker. If I wasn’t a kicker in this sport, I would be playing soccer. People (teammates) love it when you make a big (kick) – when you miss one, somebody isn’t around here giving me crap because I am a fool and a jokester. Deep down inside they know how I want to make every kick and be perfect. I was voted a captain, which shocked me, and that was because my teammates see my work ethic as a fellow player." - Jeff Reed

"How much time and effort we put into it. They think being punters, ’all you do is kick a ball. You only play four or five plays a game on average’. They don’t realize how much time we put in on the practice field. Yea, when I’m on the practice field everybody else is banging heads, running around, and doing all that. But I was always over there, working on my footwork, working on my ball put away, working on coming through the ball. I teach high school now, and a lot of teachers go ‘oh, all you do is just kick the ball four or five times a game, that must have been easy’. No! If we have a two and a half hour practice, I’m probably over there for an hour to an hour and a half working on techniques to make myself better. That’s one thing that people don’t realize – how much time and effort it takes, so that when I get on that field I don’t make a mistake. I could have three great punts in a game, but that one shank is the one that everybody talks about. They don’t talk about the three I had for fifty yards, or the one for forty-five that I put out of bounds at the two; they just talk about the twenty-five yard shank, because the wind caught it or something." - Louie Aguiar

"Most people probably don’t realize how much goes into a successful kick or punt in a game. If you have a successful kick or punt in a game, and you’re doing it on a weekly basis, that only occurs because you’ve prepared the week before, the month before, the years before. You’ve prepared, you’ve studied, you’ve trained, you’ve examined your performances and made corrections, and you’ve continued to evolve your swing to where it’s successful for your body type. I think most people don’t realize how much preparation and hard work goes into a successful kick or a successful punt during the course of a game." - John Carney

NFL Wild Card: Phil Dawson Kicks 49ers to Win

San Francisco kicker Phil Dawson hit field goals of22, 25 & 33 yards in yesterday's NFL Wild Card Game. The latter came on the final play of the game to give the 49ers a 23-20 win over the Packers.

The game was played in Green Bay at Lambeau Field, which a former Packers kicker noted is often painted dirt rather than grass. Dawson said of the surface conditions:
“There’s no grass in the middle of the field, not one blade. I’ve played on fields that were a lot worse than that in terms of football, so the grounds crew deserves credit.”
Of more significance, Lambeau in January usually means less than ideal weather. Yesterday was no exception as Dawson discussed:
“You can’t necessarily prepare for zero degrees and left-to-right wind. Leather gets hard in cold weather. When it’s this cold, the ball doesn’t want to go anywhere. That was the challenge that was there for us today. At the end of the day, you either make the kick or you don’t.”
Dawson's game winning kick was set up by a 14 play, 65 yard, five minute drive.
“To put together a drive like that under any condition is big-time, but especially today with all the factors working against us… getting it into a manageable situation, if there was such a thing tonight....

I owe that kick to the whole offense." 
Just prior to the kick, Dawson had limited interaction with his teammates.
“It’s kind of like (being) the guy with the no-hitter going in the dugout. No one wants to talk to him.... A couple of guys patted me on the head. We all have jobs to do, and I knew I had to do mine.”
The kick was nearly blocked by Packers cornerback Davon House who had jumped offside. San Francisco declined the penalty. Phil Dawson had noticed the early jump:
“I saw, from my perspective, the guy off the left wing get what I thought was a jump prior to the snap. I hurried up a little bit, knowing either I’d make it or get a retry 5 yards closer.”
During his previous 14 years in the league, all with Cleveland, Dawson had played in only one playoff game.
"I waited a long time to win a playoff game. I finally got to do it and it was worth the wait."

Sunday, January 5, 2014

NFL Wild Card: Shayne Graham Kicks Saints to Win

In yesterday's Wild Card Game, Saints kicker Shayne Graham hit four field goals (36, 46, 35 & 32 yards). The latter came on the final play of the game and gave New Orleans a 26-24 win over Philadelphia.
"Hit it pure. Stroke the ball clean and hit it pure. It's really just like any golfer that's lining up to play a playoff hole. They've got to hit their drive pure, they've got to hit their approach shot pure, they've got to hit the putt pure. ... That's just the term for perfect. You hit it and you hit it pure."
Graham had spent the first 14 games of the NFL season unemployed.
"You're hanging out on a Sunday and you go somewhere to dinner and you see a game on TV, you don't want to watch it because you're not playing. When you finally get your opportunity, all of a sudden you can put SportsCenter back on, you can watch all the NFL you want, because you're once again in it and you don't have to resent it at all."
With only two game remaining in the regular season, the saints decided to release Garret Hartley. Graham ended up winning the job.
"It was tough. Throughout the year it was tough. I had never gone this late in the season and not been on a team. I got workouts from a lot of teams and I was told, 'We are going to give our guy another chance. We'll just see what happens.' Thankfully not a lot of kickers got hurt this year, but it was just slow. But as you see it's a marathon, not a sprint."
Weather conditions (cold and windy) in the game were not ideal for kicking. Eagles kicker Alex Henery missed a 48 yard field goal attempt in the second quarter and saw his final kickoff returned 39 yards to give the Saints a short field on their game winning drive.
“The ball is not going to travel as far on a cold day. There’s no excuse – just miss something like that. I have to be better there, help the team out. It just shows that every point matters in a game like this....

I thought I hit the last kickoff pretty good, actually, going into the wind there. It’s just science. The ball doesn’t fly as well in cold weather. You could tell both kickers were going about goal line to the five-yard line [in the south end zone]. That’s kind of what you get. You have to work with it. I’m not sure. It just got outside of us. It got out, I guess you could say.”
Following the game, Shayne Graham said of his game winner:
"I didn't doubt it for a second, felt comfortable and confident, and luckily I got bombarded on the field after the play and it was a great feeling....

As a kicker, this is what you live for, a chance to contribute to a big win like this. The guys worked so hard for this and it's a great feeling to give them the win they deserve." 
Graham also elaborated on the fact that he has not been with the team very long:
"It feels really good, especially when it's a do-or-die situation. Sometimes you can kind of want that easy way out, want your team to win a blowout. But sometimes you can get a special feeling when you are part of something your team puts together and get the win and the points that you score are the difference. The way our offense drove the ball down the field it was beautiful. How could I not draw confidence watching those guys drive the ball down the field?... If I had been here for 14 years or if I'd been here for one game, my job is the same thing so that is all that really mattered. I've been here for three weeks I guess, and I feel like I've been adopted into a family. It's just a really comfortable, tight group here."

Friday, January 3, 2014

2013: The Year in Kicking, part 2

2013 was a long year (roughly 365 days), so there was plenty of notable kicking. Following are just a few of the highlights.

January 
February
March
April
May
  • The first specialist selected in the CFL Draft was long snapper Jorgen Hus
July
  • Calgary Stampeders kicker Rene Paredes set a new CFL record for most consecutive field goals passing Paul McCallum's record of 30; Paredes saw his streak end at 39
August
September
  • Junior kicker Niklas Sade hit a 48 yard field goal with 33 seconds left to give North Carolina State 23-21 over Richmond
  • Senior kicker Griffin Thomas made five field goals (50, 42, 44, 26 & 20 yards), with last one winning the game in the second overtime, in Jacksonville State's 24-21 win over North Alabama. Junior kicker Andrew Franks hit a school record five field goals, including a school record-tying 50-yarder and a 37-yarder with 1:04 remaining, to give Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute a 24-21 win over Alfred University.
  • Sophomore kicker Matthew Wyman hit a 52 yard field goal as time expired to give Kansas a 13-10 win over Louisiana Tech
  • During the Cleveland Browns' 31-27 win over Minnesota, Spencer Lanning handled punting, kicking & passing
  • Jack Gunston kicked four goals during Hawthorn's win over Fremantle in the AFL Grand Final
October
  • LA Galaxy forward Landon Donovan tied Jeff Cunningham for the MLS career goal scoring record
  • Vancouver Whitecaps striker Camilo Sanvezzo kicked what would be named the MLS Goal of the Year
  • Sophomore kicker Marshall Morgan opened the scoring with a 56 yard field goal and concluded it with a 42 yard game winner in overtime as Georgia won 34-31 over Tennessee
  • Senior kicker Cairo Santos made five field goals (42, 28, 42, 43 & 42 yards), with the latter a game winner in overtime, to lift Tulane 36-33 win over East Carolina. Senior kicker Nolan Kohorst hit a 44 yarder, his fourth field goal of the day, as time expired to give UNLV a 39-37 win over Hawaii. 
  • Freshman kicker Clarence Clark hit a 59 yard field goal with 11:26 remaining to tie the game and a 52 yarder in overtime to give Baker a 13-10 win over Missouri Valley 
  • The US Men's Soccer team won their third straight Hexagonal
November
  • The US Women's Soccer team defeated Brazil 4-1 to go unbeaten on the year
  • Junior kicker Andre Heidari made a 47 yard field goal with 19 seconds left to give USC a 20-17 win over Stanford
  • Senior kicker Nate Freese hit a 52 yard field goal as time expired to give Boston College a 29-26 win over Maryland
December

Thursday, January 2, 2014

2013: The Year in Kicking, part 1

What was the biggest kicking/punting/snapping moment of 2013? 

When we posed that question tp specialists we received some diverse answers - although two kickers and one punter from the NFL were mentioned several times each:
  • "One of the biggest moments in kicking was when Matt Prater hit a new NFL record 64 yard field goal.  I believe this because it shows how kicking can and will change the game in the upcoming years.  Kickers are becoming stronger and more accurate.  The field position game is going to be even more important when 60 yard field goals are a normality in the NFL." - Jeff Schebler, inaugural Fred Mitchell Award winner
  • "Justin Tucker 61 yard field goal, 6-6 keeps the Ravens playoff hopes alive, a huge thank you from Aaron Rodgers and fantasy owners everywhere and just the most confident biggest kick of the year." - Adam Tanalski, Hammer Kicking Academy
  • "Johnny Hekker setting NFL net record" - Mike McCabe, One on One Kicking
  • "Easily has to be Prater breaking the record. Four guys tied at 63 for how long and he smashes a 64? Unforgettable." - Nick Sundberg, Washington Redskins long snapper
  • "Definitely the Colts' Pat McAfee's big KO hit. Gave kickers some respect they don't normally get." - Lee McDonald, Special Teams Solutions 
  • "The biggest moment this year for me were many as I worked with our kicker, Rene Paredes, as he set a professional football record with 47 consecutive field goals. In terms of isolated moments in kicks? Matt Prater's 64 yarder in the cold sticks out, as does Justin Tucker hitting from 61 to win the game, cap off a 6/6 night while hitting his 33rd in a row." - Rob Maver, Calgary Stampeders punter
  • "Jordan Berry's Punt Pass at EKU, where he punted the ball to a receiver who had stayed behind the LOS, caught it and then advanced for the first down.I thought it was bold and good on them for trying it.  When it works, everyone is a hero." - Nathan Chapman, ProKick Australia
  • "Matt Prater breaking the field-goal record with a 64 yard kick" - Chris Husby, Special Teams Football Academy
  • "Justin Tucker miss-hitting a 61-yard field goal, and making it, to win a game. It re-defined what it means to be in the zone." - Filip Filipovic, The Kicking Coach
  • "Prater setting the NFL record and Tucker's six field goals including 60+ yard game winner" - Carlos Ojeda, Lakeland Raiders kicker
  • "Johnny Hekker breaking the the all time NFL record for net punting average in a season" - Dan Lundy, One on One Kicking
  • "Easily the biggest moments for Specialists at the highest level was Matt Prater breaking the NFL record with a 64 yard field goal (which I think will be broken next year), as well as Johnny Hekker breaking the NFL record for a season with a net punting average of 44.2 yards." - Brian Jackson, Team Jackson Kicking