Icing the kicker doesn't often work, but in the Broncos' case, it allowed them extra time to come up with the adjustment to prevent a Chargers field goal.
The Denver Broncos were able to come up with a 24-21 win over the Los Angeles Chargers on Monday night by blocking a 44-yard field-goal attempt that would have sent the game to overtime.
The block, by defensive lineman Shelby Harris, was made possible by the Broncos' decision to "ice" Chargers kicker Younghoe Koo before his first attempt.
"Icing" the kicker is common football strategy in which coaches call timeout right before the kicker attempts a field goal, just to try to get in the kicker's head.
The Broncos may have had extra reason to think the tactic might work on Koo, who is a rookie kicker, but it was still unlikely to work — there isn't math suggesting that the strategy leads to missed attempts.
But the Broncos' late timeout actually had another benefit: extra time for defensive end Derek Wolfe to design a play for Harris to get to Koo.
During the snap for Koo's first kick — just before which time the Broncos called timeout — Wolfe blew past Chargers offensive lineman Dan Feeney. Wolfe said after the game that he had been getting past Feeney easily all game and knew that on the second attempt Feeney would concentrate on blocking him. Wolfe said he told Harris that he would attack Feeney and create room for Harris to get to Koo.
"We were kicking that guy's (behind) the whole game," Wolfe said, according to Yahoo. "We were knocking him back the whole time. Every time they tried to kick a field goal, we were getting a push." He added: "I was like, 'He's going to lean on me. Shelby, just go. Just go.'"
Here's the blocked field goal that sealed the Broncos' win:
Another angle shows how Wolfe attacked Feeney's outside shoulder, creating the gap for Harris.
And though the movement is tough to detect, a gap opened up for Harris, who broke through and got a finger on the ball. Wolfe was still being blocked, as was the plan.
Harris said afterward: "If it wasn't for Wolfe on that play, I wouldn't have had any chance at all. It was a two-man job. We dominated the guard and made the play."
He added, "I'm sure my fingers will hurt tomorrow, but I'm good."