INDIANAPOLIS --- It was the kick heard 'round the country Sunday, after Blair Walsh missed a 27-yard field goal that would have given the Vikings a playoff win over the Seahawks. You have to feel for Walsh, the Vikings, and their fans, but the missed kick sparked a lot of questions on social media about the mechanics of kicking a field goal.
The big thing everybody noticed about Walsh's wide-left kick? The laces were in on the hold, creating flashbacks to the character Ray Finkle from the movie Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, but also leading to legitimate curiosity as to how much that really matters.
Colts long-snapper Matt Overton and punter/holder Pat McAfee weighed in on Twitter:
Also, in a New Year's Eve interview with Colts.com on a variety of topics (which will air in it's entirety later this offseason), I happened to ask the most clutch kicker of all-time, Adam Vinatieri, how much it matters to have the laces out on a hold.
"Laces make a difference," said Vinatieri. "Laces pointing away from my foot to the middle of the upright is perfect. The lean (of the football) is very important...The lean is probably the most important thing, and the laces are probably the next most important thing."
So what happens when the laces are in?
"If you hit the laces if they're straight back, and your foot is going right through it, it's like hitting a baseball not on the sweet spot or a tennis ball with a tennis racket just a couple inches off and it kind of gives you that rattle," said Vinatieri. "It's the same kind of feeling when you're kicking a ball."
Vinatieri also described what happens if the laces are between in and out and pointing left or right.
"If the laces are at least off of your foot, right or left. We call it three o'clock or nine o'clock, if you're looking at a clock. That's better, but if the laces are pointing one way or another, it can tend to make the ball draw a little bit," said Vinatieri. "We're getting very technical. We don't need to go that far, but laces make a big difference."
On New Year's Eve, Vinatieri echoed what Overton would later tweet Sunday about the laces being a big responsibility of the long snapper in the operation and mechanics of a field goal.
"If you've got a long snapper that can snap laces forward the majority of the time, with just a little bit of turn (by the holder), usually a good holder like Pat (McAfee) can get those laces around, facing off of my foot and away with a good lean" said Vinatieri. "Then it's up to me at that point."
You probably now know more than you ever thought you would about kicking a field goal, but Vinatieri summed up his thoughts on laces out versus laces in with one more definitive sentence.
"It makes a big difference."