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Thursday, September 24, 2009
Ice try: Sizing up kickers in the clutch

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com


Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando


OT Kicks Since 2001
FGM FGA Pct. Average Distance
Iced 18 31 58.1 41.9
Not Iced
32 44 72.7 43.8
Totals 50 75 66.7 43.0
Grant Ruby asks via Facebook: Sando, you're a stat geek (I say that with reverence). Wondering if you have any stats on 'icing' the kicker. Statistically speaking, does a kicker do any better/worse after a timeout by the opposing team?

Mike Sando: If you think I can be a stat geek, you ought to meet the people from ESPN Stats & Information. I posed your question to them and they produced a list since 2001 showing all kicks of at least 35 yards in the final 2 minutes or overtime when the score was tied or the kicking team trailed by no more than 3 points. These seemed like reasonable parameters.

Icing the kicker seemed most effective during overtime. Kickers made 18 of 31 tries -- 58.1 percent -- from an average of 41.87 yards when opponents iced them in overtime. Kickers made 32 of 44 tries -- 72.7 percent -- from an average of 43.84 yards when opponents did not attempt to ice them in overtime.

The percentages were nearly identical for iced and non-iced kicks during the final 2 minutes of regulation.
NFC West Kickers in OT
Iced Not Iced
All
Joe Nedney
1-1 3-3 4-4
Josh Brown
0-0 1-1 1-1
Olindo Mare
0-1 1-1 1-2
Neil Rackers
0-0 0-0 0-0
Totals 50 75 66.7

The 49ers' Joe Nedney has made more overtime field goals without a miss -- four -- than any other kicker since 2001.

No kicker during that time has attempted more than three field goals in overtime after an opponent called timeout. Eleven kickers made their only attempt during those situations. Among those without a miss, only Shaun Suisham attempted more than one. He made both tries. Robbie Gould and Jay Feely were the only kickers with more than two attempts in those situations. Gould made 2 of 3. Feely made 1 of 3.

The first chart shows results for all overtime kicks since 2001, by iced or not iced.

The second chart breaks out NFC West kickers during those sudden-death situations.

The third chart ranks kickers since 2001 who have made at least three kicks without a miss from 35-plus yards to tie or take the lead in overtime or the final 2 minutes of regulation.
Most Prolific Clutch Kickers Since 2001
Iced Not Iced
All
Matt Bryant
2-2 5-5 7-7
Jeff Reed
5-5 1-1 6-6
Paul Edinger
3-3 2-2 5-5
John Carney
3-3 2-2 5-5
Totals 13-13 10-10 23-23

The Steelers' Jeff Reed must have Prestone in his veins. He's made all five clutch kicks from 35-plus yards when opponents tried to ice him. Reed, Matt Bryant, Paul Edinger and John Carney have made all 13 tries since 2001 when opponents tried to ice them. They combined to make 23 of 23 kicks whether or not they were iced.

Adam Vinatieri has made 11 of 12 kicks whether or not he was iced in these situations. Feely has made 8 of 15, giving him three more misses than anyone since 2001. Martin Gramatica (5-9), Phil Dawson (4-8) and Wilkins (3-7) were the only others with more than three misses.

Former Rams kicker Jeff Wilkins had the most misses when iced, making only 1 of 5 in those situations (he made both tries when he was not iced). Feely was the only other kicker with more than two misses in those situations. He made 3 of 6.
Kickers Better When Iced Since 2001
Iced Not Iced
Difference
Rob Bironas
3-4 0-1 +75%
Doug Brien
2-3 0-2 +67%
Neil Rackers
1-1 2-5 +60%
Bill Gramatica
3-3 2-3 +33%
Josh Scobee
3-3 2-3 +33%
Joe Nedney
2-2 4-6 +33%
David Akers
3-4 2-4 +25%
Jason Elam
3-3 7-9 +22%
Totals 20-23 19-33 +29 %

The fourth chart shows kickers with at least four total clutch attempts who have proven more effective after opponents tried to ice them.

Like the third chart, this one shows all kicks of at least 35 yards in the final 2 minutes or overtime when the score was tied or the kicking team trailed by no more than 3 points. These eight kickers made 20 of 23 attempts when iced, but only 19 of 33 attempts when given no extra time to think about it.

A few kickers were more accurate when not iced. Matt Stover was perfect on nine tries when opponents did not ice him. He made 3 of 5 attempts when iced. Overall, the six kickers on this list -- all with at least two iced misses -- made 42.3 percent of these pressure kicks when iced and 78.3 percent when not iced.
Kickers Worse When Iced Since 2001 (minimum 2 iced misses)
Iced Not Iced
Difference
Jeff Wilkins
1-5 2-2 -80%
Phil Dawson
0-2 4-6 -67%
John Kasay
1-3 6-7 -52%
Matt Stover
3-5 9-9 -40%
Mike Vanderjagt
3-5 3-4 -15%
Jay Feely
3-6 5-9 -5%
Totals 11-26 29-37 -36%
For download: Mark Francescutti and Ben Lerner of ESPN Stats & Information provided an Excel file breaking down all kickers across these situations. I created a master sheet putting all the information in one place.

Download the final creation here.

And if there's anything else you've always wanted to know, ask away in the comments and I'll see what we can find out.

Thanks to Grant for asking this one.