Does Icing The Kicker Work?
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By Spike Eskin
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – As Lawrence Tynes and the New York Giants lined up to kick that 54-yard field goal, for the second time, you could imagine the reaction if the ball ended up going through the uprights. Not just with Eagles fans in the stadium, but in their homes, in sports bars, on the street and in their cars.
“WHY DID YOU DO THAT, IT DOESN’T WORK!?”
That is, of course, the profanity-free version.
Thankfully for everyone but the Giants, that second attempt at the game winner didn’t go through the uprights, and the Eagles won. Just moments before the first attempt, Andy Reid chose to do what many NFL head coaches do, ice the kicker. He called timeout just before the ball was snapped, making the result of the first kick, which was missed, moot.
So does it really work? The statistical answer is “sometimes.”
According to ESPN Stats and Info, “since 2001 (including the playoffs), kickers have successfully hit field goals at an 81 percent rate when no timeout was called prior to the snap, and 76 percent when a timeout was called.” So in this case, there was a small advantage to icing the kicker. However, “the average distance on “iced” kicks is 39 yards, compared to 36 yards on kicks on which timeout was not called,” which mitigates some of the difference.
In overtime, the difference is more noticeable.” The average distance of kicks after timeouts and kicks with no timeouts called is about the same (37 yards). In that instance, ‘icing the kicker’ by calling timeout works. Kickers hit only 69 percent when ‘iced,’ 87 percent when they are not.”
“I don’t like it as a matter of princple, but I also don’t think it works,” NFL analyst Ray Didinger told 94WIP’s Angelo Cataldi and the WIP Morning Show on Monday. “I don’t know why [Reid] did it. I really don’t. It’s never really made sense to me, and it certainly didn’t make sense in that situation last night.”
Beyond the statistics, is anecdotal evidence, which may be the reason many coaches make the decision to do it. “I’ll be honest with you, I like [icing the kicker] because I have seen it work, right in front of my face, I have seen it work four or five times,” former NFL fullback and current 94WIP host said. “I know in the past couple weeks we have even seen it back fire, it almost back fired on Andy there, but I have seen Belichick right in front of me try to call that timeout and it’s worked. So, I actually like it.”
After the game, Michael Vick voiced his displeasure with the decision, saying he doesn’t believe in the practice. “ I actually thought it was kind of funny that Mike Vick came out and kinda called out his coach right there,” Klecko said. So will Reid listen to Vick? “I don’t think Andy Reid listens to anyone but Andy Reid,” Klecko said.