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NFL kickers actually make more field goals after getting iced

Icing the kicker doesn’t work, but coaches keep on doing it anyway.

NFL: Green Bay Packers at Pittsburgh Steelers Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Icing the kicker doesn’t work.

According to a graphic shown on NBC during a Sunday Night Football broadcast, it’s actually smarter not to call timeout and to just let the kicker try after running on to the field the first time.

Chris Boswell of the Pittsburgh Steelers made his 53-yard game-winning attempt Sunday night after Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy called a timeout to ice the kicker. That’s an impressive distance at Heinz Field — a stadium that’s historically unforgiving to kickers and has a low success rate for field goals of 50 yards or longer.

It’s a strategy that’s been around for a long time, but this isn’t the first time a statistical analysis has shown it to be ineffective. So why do coaches continue to do it?

Denver Broncos coach Vance Joseph pretty much summed it up after a win over the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 1. Joseph called a timeout before Younghoe Koo’s game-winning attempt was blocked.

“As far as icing the kicker, I had two timeouts and I was going to, you know, leave with those in my pocket,” Joseph said in the postgame press conference. “Ice the kicker, see how he reacted.”

If a coach has a timeout in the final seconds and hopes the kicker will miss, they can’t seem to help themselves from giving the old icing strategy a shot. But kickers seem to appreciate the extra time to prepare.

Icing Boswell on Sunday night didn’t work for the Packers, and it’s really no surprise given the history of the strategy. Is it going to stop happening, though? Probably not.