When New York Jets kicker Nick Folk(notes) kicked the game-winning field goal in Sunday's game against the Detroit Lions, he said he had "what might have been the worst game-winning celebration ever." There's a reason for that, Folk says. He didn't think the game was over.
"I saw that it was second down and I'm doing my pre-kick routine and Mike [special teams coach Mike Westhoff] yells over to me, ‘Come on, we're kicking.' I was thinking, ‘It's only third down. Shouldn't we be trying to score a touchdown?'
"This is what I thought: We needed a touchdown [to win the game]. A field goal was obviously good, but I thought [the Lions] would have one possession to either kick a field goal to tie or score a touchdown to win it."
If I may (lightly) defend Folk for a minute, he was confused about the rule change the NFL made to the playoff overtime format in the spring. The new rule dictates that a playoff game can't end on a field goal on the first possession. Folk, like a few commenters on our blog, seemed to think that the rule was in place for all games, playoff or regular season. That doesn't excuse his ignorance of the rule, but it makes more sense than the time McNabb was completely unaware that ties existed.
In some way, Folk's misguided belief of the overtime rulebook may have helped him. Instead of having the pressure of a game-winning kick on his shoulders, he thought he was kicking to give his team a lead. Maybe all kickers should forget the rulebook. Perhaps their legs won't feel so tight on those late-game kicks.
[Related: Players confused by new NFL rules]
- Mike Westhoff