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# Pro Football Reference Blog

## Kickers’ records in close games

Posted by Doug on March 19, 2007

Last week I posted coaching records in games decided by three points or less. Commenter "ABW" sparked some interesting discussion in the comments by speculating that teams' records in close games had a lot to do with the performance of the kicker. So let's take a quick look at the data on that.

First, a regression. I looked at all team seasons from 1980--2005 and I used two input variables: (1) the team's field goal percentage (minus the league average field goal percentage) for that season, and (2) the team's record in non-close games for that season, with a "close" game again being imperfectly defined as one which was ultimately decided by three points or less. The output variable is the team's record in close games.

The results:

• The team's record in non-close games was insignificant, and close enough to zero that it wouldn't have been practically significant even if it had been statistically significant.
• The team's annual field goal percentage was statistically significant (p=.02), but was fairly small: .27. So if a team could increase their field goal percentage by .10 --- say from .75 to .85, which is a pretty substantial increase --- they could expect to increase their close game winning percentage by .027. That's about one win for every 37 close games played. To summarize: there seems to be a real relationship between kicking accuracy and close game winning percentage, but the magnitude of that effect is very small.
• The regression had an R^2 of .012. No that's not a typo, it's just a really low R^2. Loosely stated, this means any attempt (well, any simple linear attempt) to predict close game winning percentage from kicking accuracy and general team quality (i.e. non-close game winning percentage) is not going to be noticeably better than twirling a coin.

In case you're curious, here are the league field goal percentages.

```
Year   LgFG%
============
1980    64.2
1981    66.1
1982    68.6
1983    71.6
1984    71.7
1985    72.2
1986    68.6
1987    70.4
1988    71.7
1989    72.5
1990    74.4
1991    73.5
1992    72.6
1993    76.6
1994    78.9
1995    77.4
1996    80.0
1997    78.1
1998    79.6
1999    77.6
2000    79.8
2001    76.4
2002    77.7
2003    79.3
2004    80.9
2005    81.1
```

Finally, here are the close game records of some kickers. I only have kicking data from 1980--2005, so this will contain partial careers for anyone whose career started before 1980 or ended after 2005. Also, since I don't have game-by-game records for kickers, I've given full credit (or blame) for all the close games in each team season to the kicker who attempted the most field goals for that team in that season. That's going to miscount some games, but it's the best I can do. The list includes all kickers who, according to the estimates detailed above, were involved in 20 or more close games.

If you read the top part of the post, you can probably guess that I don't think this list is worth much, except possibly as a source of fun trivia.

```
ClsGms   CGWin%
==================================
Mark Moseley          21    0.714
Paul Edinger          21    0.714
Raul Allegre          21    0.667
Dean Biasucci         28    0.643
Kevin Butler          44    0.636
Rich Karlis           33    0.621
Norm Johnson          56    0.607
Olindo Mare           38    0.605
Pete Stoyanovich      45    0.600
Mike Vanderjagt       27    0.593
Jay Feely             23    0.587
Matt Bahr             61    0.582
Steve Christie        55    0.582
Michael Husted        26    0.577
Jeff Jaeger           47    0.574
Gary Anderson         58    0.569
Joe Nedney            37    0.568
Ryan Longwell         32    0.562
Chris Bahr            40    0.550
Jim Breech            35    0.543
Rafael Septien        24    0.542
Pat Leahy             41    0.537
Scott Norwood         28    0.536
Chris Boniol          29    0.534
Mike Lansford         23    0.522
Mike Cofer            27    0.519
Morten Andersen       97    0.515
Chris Jacke           35    0.514
Chip Lohmiller        34    0.500
David Akers           24    0.500
John Carney           65    0.492
John Hall             43    0.488
Mike Hollis           27    0.481
Doug Brien            27    0.481
Jason Hanson          48    0.479
Greg Davis            36    0.472
Cary Blanchard        34    0.471
Todd Peterson         43    0.453
Roger Ruzek           20    0.450
Tony Zendejas         27    0.444
Martin Gramatica      25    0.440
Al Del Greco          67    0.433
Jan Stenerud          22    0.432
Jason Elam            49    0.429
Ray Wersching         27    0.426
Sebastian Janikowski  26    0.423
Jeff Wilkins          34    0.412
Kris Brown            27    0.407
Mick Luckhurst        21    0.405
John Kasay            55    0.400
Phil Dawson           25    0.400
Tony Franklin         28    0.393
Doug Pelfrey          26    0.385
Nick Lowery           65    0.385
Eddie Murray          64    0.383
Rolf Benirschke       21    0.381
Matt Stover           64    0.352
Donald Igwebuike      24    0.333
```

This entry was posted on Monday, March 19th, 2007 at 5:34 am and is filed under General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.