Falcons kicker Matt Bryant Norwooded a 49-yard field goal attempt that came after a timeout was called at the end of Sunday’s NFC playoff thriller, and FOX cameras promptly showed an incredulous Seahawks coach Pete Carroll apparently arguing to an official that the Seahawks didn’t call the timeout.
Eventually, FOX showed a replay of Carroll calling the last second timeout.
And so it is that Carroll has become the latest coach to wait as late as possible to ice the kicker, and to have the kicker miss the kick. And make the Mulligan.
As it turns out, Carroll was upset not because he was trying to disavow the timeout after clearly calling it. Carroll said during his post-game press conference that he was miffed because he had been told before the game that, under those circumstances, the kicker would not be allowed to kick the ball.
It’s common for coaches to talk to officials before a game about things that will or may happen during the game. Most notably, Saints coach Sean Payton gave the crew a head’s up before Super Bowl XLIV that he was planning a surprise onside kick. Carroll explained that this oddly specific topic came up on Sunday because Ravens kicker Justin Tucker apparently finagled a practice kick between overtimes on Saturday night.
But what did Carroll expect the officials to do, physically block the Falcons from kicking the ball? Throw a flag for delay of game? Carroll admitted that the officials didn’t know what they would do if someone took the practice kick.
So why push it by pushing the timeout to the last possible second?
Carroll has been coaching long enough to know that it’s not unprecedented for teams to take late timeouts before critical field-goal attempts, and for the kicker to get a practice kick if the timeout comes too close to the snap. Plays routinely commence after a late timeout is called. Absent a clear statement from the league that the procedures are changing and that any team that snaps the ball after a timeout is called and, in the case of a field goal try, kicks the ball will be penalized, it’s unreasonable to think that the officials will do anything other than say to the coach who called the timeout, “You should have called it sooner.”
And that’s what Carroll should have done. Or, better yet, he shouldn’t have called it at all.
The truth remains that no coach is ever criticized for not icing the kicker. That’s the single best reason to never do it.