Fans of the Denver Broncos went through a roller coaster of emotions Sunday when the Broncos’ hard fought battle in a game against their division rival San Diego Chargers went into overtime. They were ecstatic to see a potential game-winning field goal by Chargers kicker Nick Novak blocked by the Broncos special teams, but then quickly knocked back down when they realized Broncos head coach John Fox had called a time out just prior to the field goal attempt by the Chargers, giving Novak another chance to win the game for San Diego.
This practice, known as “icing the kicker”, is now often used in all levels of football in nerve-racking kicking situations late in games. Started in the NFL by former Broncos head coach Mike Shanahan, the tactic balances a deadly game of risk vs. reward when the defending team will call a time out just as a game-tying or game-winning kick is being attempted. While it sometimes works when the first kick attempt is successful and the second attempt after the timeout is not, it has the potential to backfire and work in the opposite way.
Luckily for Fox and the Broncos, Novak’s second attempt from 53 yards sailed wide right, allowing Denver quarterback Tim Tebow to lead the team on a drive that would set up a 37-yard game winning field goal by Broncos kicker Matt Prater to give the Broncos a 16-13 overtime win.
Having to watch the opposing team get another shot after a failed field goal attempt due to the fact that the head coach of your team called a time out just before the attempt can be just as gut-wrenching for fans as it is for the kicker himself. Which brings up the question of should teams be able to use “icing the kicker” time outs at all? While they have the potential to work, they have the same chance of working against you. What do you think?
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