“Icing the kicker is like trick plays or fakes,” April said. “You’re brilliant if they work and you’re something else if they don’t.”
Some coaches are thinking twice about doing it in the wake of so many mixed results.
The Jaguars’ Mike Mularkey saw it work for Reid but fail for Miami’s Joe Philbin, and that got him wondering about the value of icing.
“I’ve seen it (backfire) more than not, I really have,” Mularkey said. “I’ve done it and I’m seeing more things happen that are not positive by doing it.
“A lot of things that come down to that moment, but there’s a lot of things that you think you have the answer, but when it happens you have to make some decisions. It really depends on the situation with the number of timeouts, where are you, do you need them? It does factor in. But I have been a little bit swayed by what’s happened to teams (recently). It’s happened more than enough to go `Wow!’ so I’ll think about it.”
So will Philbin after his decision cost the Dolphins. Jets kicker Nick Folk had his 33-yarder blocked by Randy Starks, but the whistle had sounded just before that as Philbin signaled a timeout. Folk then hit the retry in overtime.
“I thought it was the right call,” Philbin said. “I was planning all along to call timeout right before he kicked the ball. … Typically we’re going to ice the kicker.”
But why? Where’s the edge?
In fact, it could work to a kicking team’s advantage because the “warm-up” attempt can give the kicker a feel for the wind and the footing. It can give away the defense’s strategy for trying to block the field goal. It provides the center with a practice snap.
Most kickers say icing has no effect, and some welcome it because they get a “mulligan.” Billy Cundiff, now with Washington, probably wishes he had been iced by the Patriots in last year’s AFC championship game before he rushed and missed a 32-yarder that would have tied it in the waning seconds for Baltimore.
“It would have worked in my favor,” said Cundiff, who missed three times last Sunday at Tampa Bay before kicking the winner after the Buccaneers didn’t ice him; they had no timeouts left. “Because I ran out there and everything was hurried and it was a rushed situation. If he would have done that, I would have probably gone over and given him a big hug.”
Mike Shanahan is considered the father of the icing technique. When he was coaching Denver, he tried it against the Raiders, bringing attention to the ploy because he waited so long to signal timeout. The next season, he did it against Houston because the kicker “had made 14 in a row” and he missed. But he got another try and “hit it right down the middle and you feel like a complete idiot.”
“Anyway, you’ve just got to go with your gut sometimes,” Shanahan said. “What I do is if I see a kicker that’s got a lot of confidence and he’s ready to go, sometimes I will call a timeout. Other times, I just let it go.”
His kicker for years in Denver, Jason Elam, invited the timeouts because it gave him more time to concentrate.
Giants long snapper Zak DeOssie, whose father, Steve, handled the same chores for the team two decades ago, wonders just who is being iced. He recalled a story Steve told about Matt Bahr getting ready to kick his fifth field goal for the win in the 1990 NFC championship game in San Francisco. First, 49ers coach George Seifert called timeout.