With time winding down in this year's NFC divisional playoff game between Atlanta and Seattle, the Falcons lined up for a 49-yard field goal to take the lead.
Atlanta kicker Matt Bryant appeared to miss the kick wide right. But as it turned out, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll had called a timeout in an attempt to "ice" Bryant. Carroll wanted to give Bryant some time to ponder the kick in the hopes that Bryant would over-think the boot and miss it.
But Bryant returned after the timeout and nailed the field goal, sending the Falcons to the NFC championship game and the Seahawks back to Seattle wondering what could have been.
In the wake of the game, Carroll's call was questioned by many.
And while some evidence suggests that icing the kicker does work in certain situations, a new study presented at the recent Sloan Conference at MIT argues that this practice has no discernable influence on field goals.
The study, completed by MIT graduate students, reviewed all 11,896 field-goal attempts in the NFL between 2000 and 2011. The authors concluded that psychological factors, like calling a timeout before the field goal attempt or whether the kicker is at home or away, do not effect the kicker.
Factors that do appear to effect a kicker's performance include the environment (kickers perform better at high altitude) and the weather (kickers are more likely to connect on field goals in warmer circumstances).
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