When Mason Crosby’s gorgeous 51 yard field goal attempt on his first swing in Dallas was waved off by the dreaded “icing the kicker” timeout, all of Packer Nation had to feel agonized and sick.
Crosby had to do it again.
And he did, with the ugliest “beautiful” kick in Packer history. A driving, weaving, wobble-three-ways before cutting-into-the-fairway history maker. Hell, I’ve seen drunks walk home in a straighter line than that!
This launched us into another discussion of whether the move to “ice” a kicker with a last second timeout before the snap actually “works.”
The answer, is, well… complicated. Let’s say… “yes+.” Or, “maybe^” or just “depends#”.
The boys at Freakonomics have posited that not only does “icing” a kicker not work, but it actually HELPS a kicker make his kick. But there are many ways to cook the statistical stew of so-called “pressure” kicks and also to define what “icing” actually is.
The latest run at the numbers is from a site called Mixpanel, and cutting to the chase, they say that icing “works”…. for about a 0.1% statistical advantage. Not much juice, for all of that squeezing.
But… wait a minute. There’s a flag on the number crunching. When they look at length of field goal as well, then the “advantage” margin of calling that timeout appears to zoom up considerably. What gives?
My theory is that – yeah, I bet icing a guy helps induce a miss on LONGER field goals – for one simple reason: you are asking the kicker to make a hard field goal TWICE, and not just once.
A great kicker will make a 50-yarder twice without blinking (Dan Bailey’s stroke on his was so effortless and money!) while a sketchy kicker (say, Roberto Aguayo) is unlikely to make even one, much less two. Therefore, if he LUCKS into the first FG, chances are that he will miss the second – BUT NOT BECAUSE HE HAS BEEN ICED! – but because that’s a kick he is statistically not supposed to make very often.
I think it’s a stat that reveals itself out of correlation, and not causation.
But then again, I am famously and admittedly as dense at Britney Spears when it comes to math. So I’ll let smarter people than me, take a stab at it.