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Kick Start
Peter King
October 18, 1993
With placekickers deadlier and defenses stingier, NFL games are becoming field goal duels
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October 18, 1993

Kick Start

With placekickers deadlier and defenses stingier, NFL games are becoming field goal duels

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YOUNG: Well, we have to play the game at a different pace. Early in the preseason I hated it, because playing at the pace we played last year, we just didn't have time to run the offense. Now, especially after a long pass play, it strains us to get the next play off on time. I don't know why the league did it. It's not improving offense.

IRVIN: That 40-second clock is making everybody rush and make mistakes. It's killing offensive football. Let's say we're anticipating that [seven-defensive-back] umbrella defense and make a call expecting that. Then, when we come to the line, they switch out of it. Normally Troy [Aikman] would just audible. But...tick, tick, tick...that 40-second clock is down to nothing, and we can't change. Besides that, I pride myself on being in some serious condition, but if you have pass play after pass play, not even the best athlete in the world can cope.

SI: One more thing about field goals. Doesn't it seem like coaches trust their kickers like never before, and it's changed their philosophy? Surely it affects how aggressive they are in the red zone compared with years ago. Detroit linebacker Chris Spielman says he can almost feel his coaches thinking, Don't turn the ball over down there when we've got an automatic three.

KELLY: NO doubt about it. Unless you have the hot hand down there, I think you'll be more conservative than in the past. And if it's third-and-14, I'll make sure we don't turn it over or get out of field goal position.

IRVIN: NO way. Coach [Jimmy] Johnson says, "We don't play with scared money. If we have the chance to stick someone in the throat with the knife, we go for the end zone, every time."

YOUNG: I believe you're going to lose a lot more games by settling for three instead of going for seven. If I were to go into a meeting with [offensive coordinator] Mike Shanahan right now, and we saw a team playing a four-across zone, I'd be thinking, How can we attack the edge? How can we find even a little weakness? You can't ever get to the point where you accept the field goal. In the end, what is it that people want to see when they come to a football game? They want the long bomb into the end zone! They want excitement!

[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]

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