Monday, December 12, 2011
Does icing the kicker really work?
By Dan Graziano
Tom Coughlin doesn't always ice the kicker. The New York Giants' head coach was talking about the strategy in the wake of his team's Sunday night victory over the Dallas Cowboys, and he said he had a specific reason for calling a timeout just as Dallas kicker Dan Bailey was about to kick the game-tying 47-yard field goal.
"One of the reasons you do it in that scenario is you're dealing with a rookie," Coughlin said.
Bailey is, of course, no ordinary rookie. He has made 31 of 35 field goal attempts in his first NFL season and had a streak of 26 in a row earlier this year. But Coughlin and the Giants knew all about what happened one week earlier in Arizona, when Bailey hit the 49-yard game-winner only to have to try again and miss after his own coach, Jason Garrett, inexplicably called the icing timeout on his own guy.
Coughlin's strategy Sunday night was a winner, as Jason Pierre-Paul blocked Bailey's second attempt and the Giants won. So that's two weeks in a row icing has worked on Bailey, but the good folks at ESPN Stats & Information don't think that means it's a good idea in general. Their research shows that, on kicks in the final 10 seconds of the fourth quarter since 2001, "iced" kickers made 83 percent of their second tries while "non-iced" kickers made just 70.2 percent of their non-iced first tries. It holds up across all distances, too, as you'll see in the chart in that link.
So the lesson is that Bailey's rough last two weeks shouldn't prove to anyone that the icing-the-kicker timeout strategy is a blanket good idea. The best way to handle it is likely the way Coughlin did -- let the circumstances dictate whether you do it or not, and hope for the best because the kick's likely to be made either way.