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There is no yardline where you are better off moving back from the goal line before attempting a field goal kick from the hash

Posted by John T. Reed on

A Monday Night Football play-by-play announcer just said Atlanta may take a delay penalty deliberately to get a better angle for a field goal. They did, but Pete Carroll of Seattle declined the yardage penalty. Two idiot coaches and an idiot announcer.


Once upon a time, in 1974 actually, the NFL moved the goal posts from the goal line to the end line. Before they did that, in 1972, they had made the hashes narrower moving them to their present position which are the same as the uprights of the goal posts.

Before those two moves, but not since, the number of compass degrees between the uprights from the kicking spot would actually shrink once you got close to the goal line. 

So, yes, back then, if the hash position of the ball for the kick was outside the uprights, there came a yard line really close to the goal line where moving closer narrowed the angle to the two uprights. Moving backward widened the angle. In other words, moving backward a little meant the field-goal target got bigger!

But that was never true if the hash position of the ball was on or inside the uprights. And since it has been impossible for the ball to be placed outside the uprights since 1972, there is now no combination of hash position and yard line where the angle to the uprights narrows when you get closer to the goal line. Now, the closer you get to the goal line, the bigger the field goal target. Closer is always better.

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You can prove this with a piece of graph paper. I did. The goal posts are 18.5 feet wide. So are the NFL hashes. The kicking spot is seven yards behind the line of scrimmage. So the closest possible field goal attempt is a little more than the seven yard line. 

Draw that spot on your graph paper. Then draw a straight line from that spot to each upright. There is no yard line where that angle narrows as you approach the goal line.

So yes, it was true before 1972 that getting really close to the goal line actually narrowed the field-goal target a little bit. But it has not been true since the hashes were narrowed to match the goal posts in 1972.

Why am I, and now you, the only persons on earth who figured this out? The two head coaches get paid millions to know this stuff. The announcer gets paid a lot to know this stuff. I got paid nothing to know it, yet I am the only one who knows it. WTF?

Atlanta also punted with 1:50 left in the game and :12 left on the play clock when they were ahead by 3 points. They should have let the play clock run down to :01.

Then Seattle screwed up by spiking the ball at :07. They should have waited until :03. In the event, the Seattle field-goal attempt to tie the game in regulation fell just short. Atlanta won by three points.

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