I love blocked field goals. I mean, I don’t love when the Green Bay Packers have a field goal blocked, but in a vacuum, blocked field goals are super fun. No other play has the potential to swing a game quite so dramatically, as the block itself automatically wipes out 3 points and any return can flip things completely on its head.
Indeed, two of the biggest plays in the Packers’ recent win against the Washington Football Team were blocked field goals, on back-to-back drives in the second quarter. The first came with 11:26 remaining in the first half, as the hilariously named Chris Blewitt did the thing that he’s named for, costing his team 3.9 points of EPA and 7 points of Winning Percentage (WPA, from 36% to 29%). Blewitt hit a low liner from 42 yards and rookie TJ Slaton managed to get a fingertip on it, forcing the miss.
Green Bay, of course, returned the favor on the very next drive as Mason Crosby hit the ball far too low on a mere 34-yarder, which was forcefully swatted by Washington’s Tim Settle. Crosby was, at least, Johnny on the spot, and managed to fall on the ball, preventing any further damage. The block, which kept the game knotted at 7, cost the Packers 3.7 points of EPA and 7 points of WPA, as they went from 72% favorites to 65% favorites.
It’s very rare to have opposing teams block field goals in the same game, and we really did witness a bit of history. The last time it happened in a Packer game prior to Sunday was in 1986 against the Bucs, when the Packers managed a block on Donald Igwebuike and the Bucs managed to get the better of legendary two-sport athlete Al Del Greco. Prior to this, you have to go all the way back to 1972 when the Packers’ Chester Marcol and the Saints’ Happy Feller (yes, really) were both blocked on December 17th. Marcol was actually blocked twice in the 30-20 Packer victory, one of which turned into a 57-yard touchdown return. Marcol was blocked a ton in 1972, as he went 33/48 on the year, suffering 6 blocks.
It happened twice more in the post-merger era, both in 1970 as Packer Kicker Dale Livngston had a kick blocked against Detroit in the same game as Detroit kicker Errol Mann, and again against Atlanta when the Packers also managed to stone Falcons’ kicker Ken Vinyard. Kicking used to be much riskier, and while this used to happen more frequently in the early 70s, in the modern NFL it’s extremely rare.
The last time it happened in the NFL prior to last Sunday was in 2017 in a game between the Broncos and Giants, where Brandon McManus was stoned from 53 and Aldrick Rosas hit it too low from 49. Prior to that, you have to go back to 2012 when Robbie Gould had one blocked for the Bears (39) while Blair Walsh had one sent back for Minnesota (30). Before that it was December of 2008 as David Akers had two blocked by the Giants (32 and 34), and John Carney had one blocked for the Eagles (47).
The Packers/Football Team game was only the 7th time it’s happened since 2000, and it will likely be quite some time before we see it again.