|12-14-2005, 12:34 AM||#1|
Join Date: Apr 2001
'Icing' Kickers May Have Opposite Effect
'Icing' Kickers May Have Opposite Effect
By DAVID PORTER, Associated Press Writer
Tue Dec 13, 6:19 PM ET
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - The practice of calling a timeout late in a game to try to "ice" an opposing kicker has probably been around for as long as the forward pass or the tailgate party.
To hear kickers tell it, it's also not particularly effective.
"I like it, because it gives you a little extra time to focus, to visualize and figure out the things you want to do and prepare to kick the ball," said New York Giants kicker Jay Feely.
Feely could probably write a book about the mental side of being an NFL kicker. He became a national symbol of futility after he missed three potential game-winners against Seattle on Nov. 27 in a 24-21 overtime loss. His travails even merited a derisive sketch on "Saturday Night Live" the following week.
That seemed quaint in comparison to the reception Feely got in Philadelphia last Sunday when the Eagles called a timeout before his 36-yard attempt in overtime. The huge scoreboard at the Linc played video images of his misses against Seattle.
"I didn't look up," said Feely, who made the kick to give New York a 26-23 win. "I had a feeling they were doing something like that because I heard the music and it was kind of eerie. I couldn't subject myself to that."
Interestingly, two weeks earlier the Seahawks hadn't used a timeout before any of Feely's kicks.
Whether a coach uses a timeout can depend on a combination of factors, including field position, how much time is left in the game and how many timeouts his team has left.
The Giants have lost three games on late field goals this season. Coach Tom Coughlin didn't use a timeout against Seattle's Josh Brown two weeks ago or against Dallas' Jose Cortez on Oct. 16, and the Giants had run out of timeouts when Minnesota's Paul Edinger kicked a 48-yard winner on Nov. 13.
Cincinnati's Shayne Graham said the effect of being "iced" is negligible. He is 3-for-3 on game-deciding kicks over the last three seasons, and last Sunday made a 37-yarder on the final play to beat Cleveland. In that game, the Browns had run out of timeouts, but the Bengals stopped the clock with 1 second remaining.
"I can kind of understand the thought process of the way they do it, but I really don't know that I've ever seen it work — not just myself, but other teams," he said. "I've had it done to me almost every game-winner I've ever had. In high school and college and pro, it's happened every time. I don't think it's had any effect on it."
Graham and Feely agreed the extra time would have little impact on a veteran kicker, but that a younger kicker might succumb to jitters.
"For a young kicker, time can be a dreaded commodity," Feely said. "They don't want that time to think and worry about the implications. The biggest thing is just to focus on the present."
Feely remembered missing a potential winner early in his career when he erred by relaxing too much during a timeout.
"I was joking around and trying to stay loose and my form was terrible," he said. "I wasn't as focused as I needed to be. I think you learn as you go along in your career."
Unlike running backs or wide receivers who must rely on their instincts when they have the ball, kickers are slaves to routines that can be disrupted more by other factors than by an opponent's timeout, according to Buffalo's Rian Lindell.
"When the refs aren't set or the ball's not right, like when they say, 'Wait, wait, wait, we've got to move it back a yard,' or something, and the clock's still going," Lindell said. "The refs probably ice you more than anything. But when they call timeout it's not that big of a deal."
The extra time can actually help when weather is a factor and conditions are changing. That's what happened to Baltimore's Matt Stover on Nov. 20 when Pittsburgh coach Bill Cowher called a timeout in overtime to let Stover mull over his 44-yard attempt. Stover converted to give the Ravens a 16-13 win.
"It gave me a little more time to feel the wind," Stover said. "Line up the putt, is what I call it. I just went out there and hit it like any extra point, and the ball was good enough and far enough."
Given the overall number of game-winning field goals that follow timeouts, there is plenty of evidence to support the claims of Feely, Graham, Lindell and Stover. Yet the question remains: If timeouts did actually rattle kickers, would any of us ever know?
They'd probably never tell.
AP Sports Writers Joe Kay in Cincinnati, David Ginsburg in Baltimore and John Wawrow in Buffalo contributed to this story.