I don’t know about anyone else, but I take a particular interest in special teams, as I like how so many underappreciated little things end up being the difference between winning and losing a football game.
Hines’ muffed punt, E.J. Speed’s penalty giving Houston a fresh set of downs after a three and out, two kickoffs out of bounds... the Colts’ special teams unit was really bad against the Texans, but there was one particular play that stood up against the rest, and it was Rodrigo Blankenship’s missed 42-yard field goal in overtime that would have given the Colts the win if he made it.
Of course, my first reaction after watching a kicker I already am not a fan of miss a relatively easy kick was to blame him. My first thought was “Okay, this guy should definitely not be on this team next Sunday”, and I had already 100% given up on him. When asked about this after the game, Hot Rod (or Noodle Leg, depending where your allegiances on the matter lie) said “Snap and hold were great. I just need to do my part and finish it off... it didn’t feel great coming off my foot”. Of course, Blankenship being a stand up guy, he was not going to throw his teammate under the bus, but I wanted to go back and take a second look at how the Colts’ new punter was doing at holder. Looking several times, in slow motion, at the missed field goal, I came to a conclusion...
While the image is not the clearest, do yourself a favour and go into YouTube, set the playback speed at 0.25x and watch the missed field goal. Then compare them to the kicks Blankenship actually made.
This was on Blankenship’s made 45-yarder earlier in the game. As we can see, the ball is much straighter than on the missed field goal, but it is also worth noting that this one was in the middle hash, while the missed one came from the right hash.
This one is from the made 27-yarder late in the game, from the left hash. As we can see the ball is again much straighter, but with a slight tilt towards the kicker. I am no specialist on the subject, but thinking about the physics of it, that way of holding the ball makes it tilt to the right, which is what ended up happening on the missed kick.
All in all, an expert’s (looking at you Pat McAfee) opinion on the subject is needed here, to clarify whether Blankenship is to blame for this one, or if it was in fact the blame of the holder.