Handling the psyche of NFL kickers is a specialized dance

RENTON, Wash. (AP) - The aftermath of the first NFL tie since 2014 became a study in the delicate psyche of kickers, and how they are handled by their coaches.

Last Sunday's 6-6 tie between Seattle and Arizona was remarkable from many aspects. One of the lasting memories were the reactions from Arizona coach Bruce Arians and Seattle coach Pete Carroll to a pair of short missed field goals in overtime that could have won the game for either team.

Arizona's Chandler Catanzaro had a 24-yard field goal clang off the left upright, and minutes later Seattle's Steve Hauschka pulled a 28-yard attempt wide left . Then came the reactions, and a study in how two coaches seeking the same goal took differing tones.

Arians was gruff, Carroll was supportive.

Arians on Catanzaro: "Make it. This is professional, this ain't high school, baby. You get paid to make it."

Carroll on Hauschka: "He made his kicks to give us a chance, and unfortunately he didn't make the last one. He's been making kicks for years around here ... but he's gonna hit a lot of winners as we go down the road here. I love him and he's our guy."

Two divergent reactions, all with the same goal of getting their kickers to be better.

"It means a lot to me," Hauschka said this week. "Coach is incredible. He is the reason that this team is so good and why this whole atmosphere up here in Seattle is so positive. And it all starts with him. I couldn't ask for a better head coach."

With such a unique role on the team, and such a specific skill in stark contrast to the rest of the roster, kickers really only have their peers who can relate to their highly visible and deeply scrutinized mistakes. How coaches handle those mistakes can be all over the spectrum.

Back in 2009, then Seattle coach Jim Mora unloaded on kicker Olindo Mare immediately after he missed 34- and 43-yard field goals in a 29-25 loss to Chicago.

"We're not going to fight our (tails) off, and have a field goal kicker go out there and miss two field goals and lose a game. It's not going to happen," Mora said.

A day later, Mora apologized for his harsh assessment.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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