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In the NFL, bring back the long field goal try

Steve Brownlee

I’ve been hoping the NFL would consider changing a few rules to make field-goal kicking more interesting.

A number of years back, from what I’m reading online it may have been around 1993, the league changed the spot where a team takes over following a missed field goal, moving it from the line of scrimmage to the spot where the kick was attempted.

That, in effect, costs the kicking team seven or eight yards of field position. That’s only if they miss, though. A successful field goal entails a kickoff, just like on a touchdown.

The idea about that change more than 25 years ago was to encourage teams to go for a first down instead of settling for a field goal.

The change seemingly makes a bigger difference on long field goals, since giving a team the ball at the their own 40-yard line instead of the 32 or 33 might be seen as significant.

If you try a chip shot and miss, well, you’re still sticking a team at their 17- or 18-yard line instead of their own 10, a long ways to go regardless. That plus not too many really short field goals — as in shorter than the current extra-point distance — are missed.

What often happens now is that teams still don’t go for the first down in the long field-goal situation. Instead, just as often when they’re out at the opponents’ 40- or 45-yard line they’ll try a pooch punt, hoping to pin the opposition down inside their 5-yard line.

I suppose pinning a team down at their own 1 is awe-inspiring, but remember, to paraphrase Allen Iverson of the NBA, “We’re talking about punting. Not a game. Not the game that I go out there and die for and play every game like it’s my last. Not the game. We’re talking about punting, man.”

Sorry, Allen, although since you apparently gave going out to the bowling alley a bad name even before you reached college, I’m not really too sorry.

When I thought about it, what I’d like to see is fewer chip-shot field goals, which are like watching the old extra-point kick from the 2-yard line. Yawn.

On the other hand, I wouldn’t mind seeing MORE tries of 50 yards and further out. Heck, let’s see somebody try a 70-yarder one of these days.

There’s always a lot of anticipation on those long kicks, not just because they’re difficult, but because of the consequences of missing them.

For one thing, kickers usually boot the ball with a lower trajectory in hopes of covering the longer distance, meaning they’re easier to block at the line of scrimmage.

That’s certainly fun.

And some long kicks don’t even reach the uprights. So the defending team can put their best kick returner in the end zone and try to make a 105-yard return.

Now that’s exciting!

I don’t have a real good idea on how to change the rule, but there’s got to be some creative minds who can work on this.

Now onto Week 11, noting there are two changes to the original schedule — the first is easy, an additional game, the New York Jets at Los Angeles Chargers. The other is a change in the Chargers at Denver Broncos game, which is now the Miami Dolphins at Denver. Both are in the 4 p.m. Sunday time slot:

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Today, 8:20 p.m.

Arizona at Seattle — While Indianapolis-Tennessee last week was a pretty good matchup, this looks to be only the second Thursday night matchup this season with two really GOOD teams, joining Kansas City at Buffalo in mid-October.

Less than a month ago, Arizona erased a 10-point deficit in the final 2 1/2 minutes to force overtime, then kicked the game-winner with 15 seconds left in extra time to win 34-31.

Reverse momentum suggests a Seahawks payback, but the only “reverse” I see is where Seattle’s defense has been headed. Cardinals, 41-33.

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Sunday, 1 p.m.

Tennessee at Baltimore — Usually, you never hear about individual linemen out with injuries on either side of the ball, unless it’s a guy who makes a huge number of sacks on defense. But I just heard this week about all the Ravens’ personnel issues as a cause for their recent tailspin. Titans, 27-21.

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Detroit at Carolina — The Lions are coming off an emotional last-second win while Carolina got hammered by Tampa Bay. Sounds like a Panthers’ slam dunk until you hear versatile workhorse Christian McCaffrey is certainly out and quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has a gimpy knee even if he can play. Sounds like a formula for making Detroit’s 30th-ranked defense look just mediocre. Lions, 29-22.

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Philadelphia at Cleveland — The 3-5-1 Eagles are guaranteed to remain alone atop the NFC East no matter what happens this weekend. That and a 1-3-1 record outside their division do nothing to inspire any kind of confidence. Browns, 31-24.

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New England at Houston — If the Patriots’ Bill Belichick didn’t have a little pride, he’d probably be tanking it to go for Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence. The Texans, though, only have two teams in front of them for the No. 1 pick — Jacksonville from their own division and the Jets from Belichick’s division. Sounds enticing, eh? Patriots, 24-16.

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Pittsburgh at Jacksonville — Another trap game for Pittsburgh. At this rate, they may trap themselves into a 16-0 record. Steelers, 40-17.

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Atlanta at New Orleans — Seriously, this is true — the only team to beat Atlanta in the last month was the Lions, 23-22, in that crazy late-game accidental TD run by Todd Gurley that let Detroit sneak it out. With Drew Brees out for at least two or three weeks and probably a lot longer, I’ll take the hot hand. Falcons, 33-26.

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Cincinnati at Washington — This is a dream matchup — because by letting these two crummy teams play each other, that means there’ll be two fewer mismatches elsewhere on the schedule. This is my way of saying I don’t know what to say about this game. Bengals, 27-23.

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Sunday, 4 p.m.

Green Bay at Indianapolis — Me thinks the home artificial turf is going to work against the Colts as Aaron Rodgers & Co. will have a nice, dry, fast track. Packers, 37-29.

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Miami at Denver — The Dolphins were supposed to be off this week, but I can see with their hot hand why they’d want to play, not that they had any say in it. Dolphins, 27-20.

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Dallas at Minnesota — Now that the Cowboys have gone three straight games without giving up 30 points (23, 24 and 25), their offense has been stuck in neutral without QB Dak Prescott and Andy Dalton as they’ve lost all three of those games. Dalton may be back, but Minnesota is breathing fire en route to a potential playoff run. Vikings, 31-20.

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New York Jets at Los Angeles Chargers — I’m sure the Chargers keep asking themselves, “What do we have to do to win a game?” Answer: Play the Jets more often. Chargers, 24-10.

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Sunday, 8:20 p.m.

Kansas City at Las Vegas — If the Raiders really were a worthy rival in the AFC West, I could see Patrick Mahomes bearing down and throwing 14 TD passes in a 98-70 win. Alas, Vegas isn’t really there yet. But Mahomes, et al., remember who gave them their only loss this season. Chiefs, 42-27.

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Monday, 8:15 p.m.

Los Angeles Rams at Tampa Bay — The Bucs look to be playing something close to the kids’ game duck, duck, goose. They play a couple good “duck” games, then lay an egg in their “goose” week.

Their losses and a close call have come against good defenses — Chicago, New Orleans (twice) and a two-point win over the Giants. The Rams have the No. 2 scoring defense in the league. Rams, 28-23.

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Last week — 10-4, 71 percent. Season — 94-52-1, 64 percent.

Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252. His email address is sbrownlee@miningjournal.net.

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