The X Factor

Jerryd "ESPN" Curry, Sports Writer

In the recent years of football, the role of the Kicker has greatly increased in determining a win and a loss. Whether it has been going 1 for 4, missing two game- winning field goals, or hitting a clutch field goal putting the team up 10 (I love Mitch Redd), the Kickers have more pressure on them now than ever before.

In the past, the PAT used to be a given. You would see the ball go up and through the uprights nearly every time.  However now more kicks are being blocked and shanked and its because of more pressure due to the severity of a situation or an army of 11 guys rushing to stop that kick. It’s more of a psychological aspect than anything. The kicker must be able to maintain composure to hit the ball straight and powerful to get their team the points they need and in a game where defenses are more powerful than ever, every point counts.

One tactic that most football coaches use is “icing the kicker”. In this situation the opposing coach will call a timeout right before the kick to put more pressure on the kicker. Most people think its a stupid strategy and doesn’t work, but according to the New York Times, studies show that the kicker’s probability of making a 40-55 yard field goal drops 10% which could decide between a win or a heartbreaking loss. As QB Drew Bledsoe put it “When you’re the kicker, you’re either the hero or the loneliest guy in the world.”

In football today, where defenses are more stacked and powerful than ever, every possession with the ball is critical and any points gained are hard earned, which could make a difference later on in the game for whether you need a field goal to tie the game or win the game.  Next to the Quarterback, the kicker is probably the most important player in that locker room because of the constant pressure they’re under whenever they take their steps back and prepare to kick the ball through the uprights. Whether its for one point or three points, the kicker determines the difference between getting a ring or having a long, bus ride home.

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