Eagles Non-highlight of the Game: Icing the Kicker

Eagles Non-highlight of the Game: Icing the Kicker

You probably jumped out of your seat when Lawrence Tynes missed his 54-yard field goal to the left, as did the 69,000 fans at the Linc on Sunday night, only to have Andy Reid pull the rug right out from in under you, too. There was no 54-yard field goal attempt. That fleeting moment of jubilation may have suddenly turned to panic as you realized what had transpired.

The head coach did one of those things head coaches do that nobody else understands. He iced the kicker.

The Eagles were fortunate Tynes missed from 54 yards again, for real this time, no take backs, sealing a hard-fought 19-17 victory over the Giants. I can only imagine the thrashing Reid would be taking today had the place kicker nailed the second try, as we've seen so often on highlights in the past. Then SportsCenter flips to a shot of anonymous imbecile coach trying to be all like, "I knew what I was doing," but is completely incapable of pulling off any expression except self-loathing.

Reid didn't have his I'm-a-dummy-in-front-of-a-national-TV-audience moment this time, therefore the moment will largely go forgotten outside of before and during future Eagles-Giants tilts. But why? Why forget? There is a lesson to be learned from this. It's not just Reid, either. This is a call to every NFL head coach who currently is not reading.

Don't ice the kicker in this situation.

What is even the alleged benefit to icing the kicker? You're going to rattle his tiny kicker confidence?

I say you're only giving him time. Time for the special teamers to trot out to the field. Time for him to eye up his target. Time to set up. Time to judge the conditions. And if coach calls the timeout right as the ball is being snapped, an opportunity to go through the motions and actually practice the kick.

Think about it. These coaches are letting professionals have a warm-up try. All they do is kick a football for a living. Wouldn't more tries make it more likely the kicker is going to correct any mechanical errors, now knowing exactly what he needs to do in order to boot that little piggy through the uprights?

You head coaches are going about this all wrong. The Giants had no timeouts. Make them run out there and kick it on the fly. It seems to me something is more likely to go wrong when everybody is out there cold, rushing around while the play clock is ticking down, threatening to transform a difficult field goal attempt into an impossible one.

Heck, I'll even allow for icing the kicker if the other team used their own timeout to set it up. Give him more time to think about it, but don't wait until the last possible moment right before they're going to kick the ball! Do they let Kobe Bryant take a practice free throw before he shoots two for the win? Of course not, how utterly ridiculous would that be?

Andy Reid got away with it on Sunday, but I haven't heard too many people admit they are a fan of this tactic, a long and distinguished list that included Michael Vick immediately after the game. Even your own players don't want to ice the opposing team's kicker, coach. Why does every last one of you insist on doing it?

Howard homers, embraces the moment, looks forward to final salute Sunday

Howard homers, embraces the moment, looks forward to final salute Sunday

BOX SCORE

The New York Mets and a slew of their supportive fans took over Citizens Bank Park on Sunday afternoon. The Mets posted a 5-3 win over the Phillies and streamed out of the dugout like school children at recess to celebrate clinching a National League wild-card playoff spot on the penultimate day of the season (see Instant Replay).

As the Mets players congratulated each other on the diamond, several thousand of their vocal fans cheered in the stands while Phillies fans headed to the exits longing for those days when their team used to have celebrations on the field.

There was a moment in the game, however, when it did feel like the good ol’ days at the ballpark, a moment when Ryan Howard owned the place like he used to and the Phillies fans drowned out the Mets fans with ease.

It came in the fifth inning when the Phillies were down by two runs and Howard came to the plate and turned on a pitch from Bartolo Colon and sent it into the right-field seats for a game-tying two-run home run. Phillies fans had seen Howard hit homers like this before because many of the 382 he has hit in his career have been clutch shots that have come in big moments, and though the Phillies have long been dead in the standings, this was an important game and thus a big moment because the Mets had a lot to play for and no competitor worth his salt would let another team walk on him.

The game didn’t stay tied long as reliever Patrick Schuster allowed a hit and a wild pitch in the top of the sixth before David Hernandez surrendered a two-run homer to James Loney as the Mets went up for good.

But at least Howard gave the Phillies fans in the house something to cheer about for a short while.

“It was cool,” Howard acknowledged after the game. “I was able to hit the home run, tying the game up. I tried to spoil it for them today a little bit, but they got us, and you’ve got to congratulate those guys because they scratched and clawed and did what they needed to do. That’s a good ball club.”

Howard’s home run, of course, was cool for another reason.

It might have been his last as a Phillie.

This is the veteran slugger’s final weekend with the team he helped win the 2008 World Series and a little love-in has developed between him and the fans. They gave him a standing ovation after the homer – his 25th of the season – and he responded with a curtain call.

“It was awesome,” he said. “To be able to hit the home run in the first place and then get the curtain call. To have the fans show that kind of appreciation is a great feeling.”

The Phillies will not pick up Howard’s contract option for 2017. On Sunday afternoon, he will play his final game for the Phillies. First pitch is at 3 p.m. The team will make an on-field presentation to Howard at 2:30.

Howard doesn’t know what the team has planned.

“I’m just going to show up and see what happens,” he said. “You know, I think it’ll be something cool. We’ll see what it is. Whatever it brings, I'll embrace it and take it and enjoy it."
 
Howard had spent the previous few days stiff-arming the attention that has come with his final days as a Phillie.

He put his guard down a little after Saturday’s game.

“I’m just taking the weekend as is,” he said. “I’m just trying to enjoy it, trying to embrace everything and take it as is. I’m not trying to look too much into anything. Actually, I’m just trying to go out there and win these ballgames. I mean, I’ve said it before, things will hit you when they hit you.”

The Phillies have not been to the playoffs since 2011, their last of five straight trips to the postseason. If anyone needed a reminder of what it used to look like around here, it was on the field after the game in the form of the Mets’ celebration.

Phillies manager Pete Mackanin did not watch the Mets celebrate. He’s waiting to experience a celebration of his own.

“There’s no doubt in my mind we’re going to get back where we need to be and we’re going to be one of those teams, just like the Mets are now,” Mackanin said.

Howard will turn 37 in November. He is the elder statesman on this club and he’s embraced that role in his dealings with younger players.

He used the Mets’ celebration as an opportunity to pass on some advice to the men who are his teammates for one more day.

“You never want to see somebody else celebrate on your home field, but for these young guys it's something where once you’ve seen it, you want to be those guys," Howard said. "When you see the other team out there, you want to be that guy next year. You want to be out there celebrating on your home field or somebody else's field.

“It's tough, but you take that and find a way to use that as motivation.”

North Dakota appears to be Eagles country

North Dakota appears to be Eagles country

It appears that Carson Wentz' fanbase in North Dakota is still pretty strong. Before North Dakota State’s game against Illinois State Saturday afternoon, fans were seen walking around the parking lot in Carson Wentz Eagles’ jerseys. 

Wearing Eagles gear at the tailgate was not all, however. A large group of people begun chanting “Carson” over and over to show their love and support for the Eagles quarterback. 

Wentz, along with Eagles practice squad cornerback C.J. Smith, a fellow Bison alum, showed up to North Dakota State's homecoming Saturday.

This is not the first time we have seen North Dakota State fans showing how much they adore Carson Wentz. Going back to the NFL draft, fans were seen on the red carpet wearing North Dakota State Wentz jersey’s and waving flags.

On Sept. 19, when the Eagles played the Bears, North Dakotans traveled to see Wentz play in person.

Clearly, Wentz has a lot of love from his fans back at home, but it is safe to say that Eagles fans love him just as much after he has led them to a 3-0 start.  

It doesn't hurt that Wentz' cousin, Connor, plays for North Dakota State. Connor is a redshirt junior tight end.

John Clark with Connor Wentz

A photo posted by Rob Kuestner (@rkuestner23) on