In Sunday’s crazy Seahawks-Falcons divisional round game, Seattle miraculously came back from down 27-7 to take a 28-27 lead with less than a minute left. The Falcons had one last march up the field and somehow found themselves with a golden chance at a game-winning field goal, a chance to save themselves from once again being labeled “chokers.” Matt Bryant stepped up and…. missed! Seahawks win right? Wrong. Pete Carroll called timeout before the play to try and make Bryant think more about this do-or-die kick. Bryant’s only thoughts during that timeout were how to step up and make it in his second chance, and he drilled it. Season over for Seattle. Without hindsight, did Pete Carroll make the right decision? Should teams stop icing the kicker? Let’s review:
- Per ESPN’s Stats and Info, kickers who were iced from 2001 through 2011 made 76 percent of their field goals, as opposed to 81 percent making their field goals when a time out was not called. But those odds do decrease for kickers in overtime, so icing is a popular option.
- If the kicker takes and misses a “practice kick”, the kick before the icing, they make the second kick 77% of the time. If the kicker makes the “practice kick”, they miss the second only 18% of the time.
- Kickers like Adam Vinatieri have said that they appreciate getting a practice kick in a game-winning situation, Vinatieri saying that it helps him focus and assess the situation.
With those stats, what happened Sunday and Vinatieri’s thoughts on the matter, I think that though icing the kicker seems like a very enticing and attractive move, coaches are better off keeping their hands at their sides. Icing a kicker is one of those moves that seems like a no-brainer, but is really one that kickers are expecting now. If a young kicker thinks he’s going to get a practice kick, that will mess with his mind more than icing him. Thinking about if he will be iced or not is way more of a puzzling psychological question. Therefore, in the Conference Championship games, coaches shouldn’t even think of icing. Remember Pete Carroll.