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A little goalposts history

Join Jaguars Inside Report Senior Editor Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions.

Cliff from Callahan, FL:
In a Jaguars game a few years ago a Steelers rookie caught a pass, hit the ground untouched and, forgetting the rules changes from college, spiked the ball for a fumble. Was that rookie Troy Edwards?

Vic: No, it was Plaxico Burress

Bharat from Jacksonville:
I completely understand that football is a young man's game. I understand that Leftwich's time is closer than previously thought. I also understand that Brunell will be gone next year. Finally, I understand that I'm being irrational for the following reason: I'm a big Brunell fan! Is there any chance the team will start Brunell at home one final time, so we can see him play before departing next year? It's sentimental, I know, but would they do it?

Vic: I can't tell you whether or not Mark Brunell will get another home start, but I feel confident that, if he does, the reason will have nothing to do with sentimentality. Football seldom makes that allowance. This truly is a tough game for tough guys. That has always been its charm.

Lisa from Jacksonville:
I am tired of listening, discussing, hearing about the old era, the new era, the quarterback situation, etc. I have had season tickets since 1996 and don't intend to give my seats up, win or lose. So, to help distract from all the negativity going on, even if only for a few minutes, can you explain how the yards are calculated on attempted field goals? I've never quite understood that. Of course, I've never asked anyone to explain it. So, how about it?

Vic: It's real easy. Find the yard-line marker closest to the place where the holder is going to spot the ball for the kicker. Add 10 yards to that spot and that's the length of the field goal being attempted. Why add 10 yards? Because the goalposts are on the backline of the end zone, which is 10 yards beyond the goal line. For example, a ball spotted at the 19-yard line is a 29-yard field goal attempt; 19 yards to the goal line and 10 more to the goalposts. Now here's a little history lesson. In the old days, the goalposts were right on the goal line, so a field goal was equal in length to the spot from which it was kicked. But having the goalposts in play made for some dangerous collisions. One of the most common pass routes is called a "post pattern," which means run for the goalposts. Of course, that terminology is a product of the days when the goalposts were on the goal line. The posts were moved back for the 1974 season. Teams would often deploy a return man near the goalposts, in the event a kick fell short; in those days all field goal attempts that reached the end zone and weren't returned resulted in the other team getting the ball at their 20-yard line. And I remember a guy named Brady Keys, who was standing under the crossbar in the event of a short kick, jumping up to block a kick from going over the crossbar. Of course, the kick was nowhere near long enough to get over the bar, but Keys swatted the ball down and the other team recovered on the one-yard line.

Ben from Fernandina Beach, FL:
Many are wondering what "drastic thing" you may do on our bye week. Are you going to join the coaching staff?

Vic: That's not it. Maybe the Jaguars will win this Sunday and I won't have to do anything drastic.

Joe from Jacksonville:
Why can't we finish off games? We always seem to choke when we shouldn't. What do you think is the reason for this?

Vic: Joe, I don't know what the reason is, but I do acknowledge that this is a major problem for this football team that must be researched and addressed. I didn't know how bad it was until I was asked this week to check into it. What I discovered is the Jaguars have allowed teams to rally late in the game for wins 11 times since the 2001 season. That means 11 of the Jaguars' last 24 losses have been the result of late-game collapses by the defense. I was startled, so I researched a couple of other teams, teams who've been in the playoffs the last couple of years, and found they've almost never lost a game in that manner, and these are teams that consistently play with the lead. All I can deduct from this very unofficial research is that the ability to protect a lead late in the game is a major ingredient in the formula for success.

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