Suisham goes the extra yard
Posted Jul. 09 at 09:24 AM
Strange But True: I believe that statisticians went back and changed the lengths of only two field goals last year, and both of those attemps involved Shaun Suisham of Washington.
Either Suisham (or his agent or his team) successfully submitted revisions to the league office on two of his field goal attempts - a 50-yarder that he missed at Dallas, and a 50-yarder that was successful at the Meadowlands against the Giants. Previously, those were listed as 49-yard attempts.
It's odd that these statistics were incorrectly filed in the first place. Field goals aren't hard to measure. If the ball is put on the 40-yard line, it's a 50-yard field goal. If it's put halfway between the 40 and the 41, it's still a 50-yard field goal. (It doesn't become a 51-yard attempt until the ball is place on or beyond the 41-yard line; the league changed this rule after Tom Dempsey's legendary kick, which actually would be scored as a 62-yard field goal today.)
It's also odd that while these statistics were revised in the league's overall records, the official boxscores were never revised. Usually, when you have an interception changed to a fumble or the length of a touchdown altered, the league re-issues the official boxscore, so that when you go back into NFL.com and call up the stats for the game, the correct numbers show. That didn't occur in these games, so probably some people that used Suisham as their kicker in week 15 never realized that they never got their 3 bonus points for a 50-yard field goal.
Also note that in the Giants game, the line of scrimmage was the 31-yard line. That means that Suisham had the ball placed 9 yards back for his kick (which probably caused the stat error in the first place). Normally, kickers use an 8-yard setup area. I don't have the time to check the line of scrimmage for every field goal attempt from last year, but I doubt that there were any 9-yard setups on any kicks all season (I would instead expect to see some from 7 yards).
So why would Suisham choose to try a 50-yarder, when he could try one from 49 (particularly on a cold and windy night, when Washington probably shouldn't even have had him attempt a kick from that distance)? Maybe the holder made a mistake and accidentally lined up in the wrong spot. Maybe Suisham would argue that an extra yard on a long kick would give him a little more room to avoid a potential block. Or maybe Suisham believes that a 50-yard field goal is far more prestigious than a 49-yarder, so he told his holder to move back.
In the league's stat-keeping system, field goals get lumped together in 10-yard blocks - 20-to-29 yards, 30-to-39 yards, 40-to-49 yards and 50-plus. So a 49-yard field goal tends to be treated as similar in value to a 41-yarder. Move out to 50 yards, and you've got a kick that can be waved around during contract negotiations. That's probably why Suisham or his agent phoned the league office. Either that, or Suisham was just looking out for the fantasy leaguers who selected him.
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