One recent study says taking a timeout before a field-goal
attempt does not really change the overall rate of success.
It is anticlimactic, drama-draining and a killer of rhythm. It
is, from a statistical perspective, debatably effective. And it is,
in the words of New York Giants kicker Lawrence Tynes, "the most
ridiculously talked-about and overanalyzed issue in the game."
Despite all that, a coach's signaling a timeout just before the
opposing team attempts an important field goal -- the so-called
icing-the-kicker routine -- does not appear to be going away anytime
soon, even as many players say it has become so common that the real
surprise would be if a coach actually kept his hands in his pockets.
So could there be a day when not calling a timeout becomes the
norm before a kick?
"I honestly think it's going to come around to people letting
them kick," Zak DeOssie, the Giants' long snapper on punts and field
goals, said recently. "At this point, you know it is coming. You're
expecting the timeout now. Everyone's come to expect it at any
The strategy is continually on display. This season, the Giants
and the New York Jets featured it prominently. In Week 3, the Jets
were granted a reprieve after Nick Folk missed a game-winning kick
because Miami Dolphins Coach Joe Philbin had called a timeout. (Folk
converted the second attempt.) A week later, in the final seconds of
the Giants' loss to Philadelphia, Tynes hooked a hurried 54-yard
attempt wide left but had another try because Eagles Coach Andy Reid
had used the same tactic.
Given a few moments to gather himself, Tynes's second effort was
far better, flying straight and pure but coming up a yard or two
To Tynes, that situation -- in which the Giants' unit rushed onto
the field and "we didn't know what we were doing" -- was an example
of how icing can actually help a kicker, not hurt him. "If I was a
coach, I wouldn't call it," he said. "We got to slow down, and do it
again better. Plus, why would you ever want to give someone a
practice rep on anything?"
The modern form of icing the kicker -- that is, a coach waiting
until just before the snap to do it as opposed to having a player on
the field make the call -- can be traced to 2007, which was the
first year coaches were given the authority to call timeouts. Mike
Shanahan, then with the Denver Broncos, is given credit for being
the first to use the tactic, as he called a timeout just before
Oakland Raiders kicker Sebastian Janikowski tried a potential game-
winning kick. …