Monday, December 03, 2007


Before I get to what I want to write about today, let me explain something that's in vogue in football this year. If it is late in the game, and a team is about to kick a field goal that would help them tie the game or to win it, it has been very popular for the coach on the opposing team to call a timeout at the last possible moment. This usually means that the kicker of the first team has already had an opportunity to kick the ball, and so the idea is that having to kick the ball again will make that kicker be flustered, and perhaps miss the field goal. This is known as "icing" the kicker.

One of the first times that this happened this year was a game between the Oakland Raiders and the Denver Broncos. The kicker for the Raiders set up to kick a 51 or 52 yard field goal (which is just about as long as field goals tend to be kicked), and the play got going, and the ball made it through the uprights. It looked like the Raiders had won, until everybody on the field realized that Mike Shanahan, the coach for the Broncos, had called a time out just prior to the snapping of the ball, so the kick didn't count. The play was set up again, but on the subsequent attempt, the kicker missed the very long field goal, and the Raiders lost the game.

Before I proceed, let me say that I dislike both of these teams anyways just by virtue of the fact that they are in the same division as my San Diego Chargers, so it helps my team do well (ie, advance to the playoffs) when they do poorly. Further, I tend to dislike the Raiders more than the Broncos mostly because their fans are notorious for starting fights at games, getting obnoxiously drunk, and, in general, tending to not be very nice people. Nevertheless, when I saw Shanahan do what he did, I realized that I had a new team in the division to spend my time hating on. You may also draw from this that I, yes, even I, felt sorry for the Raiders. You see, they were an underdog in that game, and, as long as it doesn't affect my team, I like to see the underdog win; it tends to make the game more compelling.

Aside: the "icing" of the kicker is a fairly volatile point in the NFL this year, and there is a lot of talk that they will probably make a rule prohibiting it in subsequent seasons. Some people continue to laud it, by saying that it makes good strategic sense to win by whatever is legally allowed in the rules. To me, it just seems cheap. End of aside.

So, I said all that to say that the Broncos and the Raiders met again yesterday on the field, and the Raiders defeated the Broncos pretty handily, 34-20. And I, even though I dislike the Raiders, smiled for their victory.

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