Kickers being frozen out

Updated: September 26, 2007, 11:03 AM ET
By Marwan Maalouf
Freezing the field goal kicker with a timeout before a critical attempt is a common practice, but the NFL needs to come up with a fair rule to address the calling of timeouts at the very last second before the snap. In the last two weeks we have seen potential game-winning kicks by Oakland and Cleveland wiped out because of last-second timeouts and the follow-up kick either missed or blocked.

Sebastian Janikowski
Phil Dawson
Sebastian Janikowski of the Raiders made what looked like the clinching field goal in Week 2 against the Broncos only to have Denver head coach Mike Shanahan call a timeout and negate the kick, and Janikowski then pulled the second kick to the left and the Broncos got the win. The same thing happened to the Browns' Phil Dawson last week in Oakland, when the Raiders pulled the trick on him and then blocked the second attempt. In both cases coaches were clearly communicating to the officials that they wanted a timeout just before the snap, at the last possible instant.

This throws a kicker off his rhythm and adds additional pressure to execute everything again. There are many factors involved in a successful field goal attempt: wind, weather, angle, snap, hold, protection, the kicker's mechanics and field conditions, especially where the plant foot lands. When all of that is executed perfectly and the kick is good, the pressure is off and a kicker's confidence goes up, especially on a potentially game-winning kick. But when he's asked to do it all over again a mental block can creep in.