News: Article: DMN - The field goal: It's all good, or else

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  1. MichaelWinicki

    MichaelWinicki "You want some?" Staff Member

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    The field goal: It's all good, or else

    It looks automatic, but a mistake in any facet can doom a field goal attempt

    By TODD ARCHER / The Dallas Morning News

    IRVING – It looks so easy.

    Jeff Robinson snaps the ball. Mat McBriar places it on the ground. Billy Cundiff kicks it. Simple.

    Well, it wasn't so simple Sunday at Minnesota. McBriar let a snap go through his hands in the second quarter, and the Cowboys lost the lead for good three plays later. Backup quarterback Tony Romo handled the holder's job the rest of the way and will continue to do so.

    McBriar's mistake shows that a lot can go wrong between the snap and the kick.

    "The ideal is for it to be 1.27 seconds," Cowboys special teams coach Bruce DeHaven said. "I figure if we're in the range of 1.27 and 1.32, we're OK. Anything over 1.32 and I think you're getting into a little too much time. ...

    "The longer it takes, even with penetration up the middle, you get more of a chance for a block."

    What happens in that 1.27 seconds?

    Here's a look:

    1. The snapper
    Robinson has been in the NFL for 12 years and has been a snapper since 1995. He is considered one of the best deep snappers in the game.

    He was perfect on 155 snaps last year and was missed in 2002 when he suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament. How valuable is Robinson? During a pass drill in training camp, rookie Tom Crowder grazed Robinson and was scolded by the coaches.

    Like most snappers, Robinson can time it out for the laces to be perfectly lined up so the holder does not have to spin the ball. It makes for a much quicker operation.

    "Sometimes you can actually snap the ball too hard," DeHaven said. "You want to snap it back quickly, but you also want it to be manageable for your holder."

    2. The holder
    Catching the ball and possibly having to spin it so the laces are away from the kicker is a difficult task. Mat McBriar caught hundreds of snaps from kicking coach Steve Hoffman since training camp began. It still didn't guarantee success.

    After the holder catches the snap and turns the laces, it's not just a matter of putting the ball on the ground.

    "The kickers want to see more of the ball," Hoffman said. "When we were little kids out there kicking, we probably had it on a two-inch tee so you had a little room to get your foot under the ball. In the NFL, you're kicking off the ground. If you lean the ball back, you're hiding the sweet spot and you end up with a knuckleball."

    Because of the angle of Cundiff's foot, the ball is actually tilted forward slightly and toward the holder, creating a larger area of the ball to hit.

    3. The kicker
    Before the snap, Billy Cundiff will take four steps and slide his right foot along the ground to line up.

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