Firstly, yes, he did literally drop the ball. You will discover this by a simple google search of his name this week.
I am however going to argue that he has not metaphorically dropped the ball. Although he may have been prematurely celebrating his try I feel that there should be some level of understanding from those most aggravated. I say this for a number of reasons:
He perhaps was overwhelmed with relief after missing a kick from in front of the posts.
On any other day or on any other occasion, this would have been a regulation placing of the ball.
He did not choose for the player to knock the ball out of his hand. This emphasises the choice that he has in relation to the mistake and his response to it.
This is not a typical mistake that a player of this level would make. I appreciate that some may argue that players at that level should not make such mistakes, but they are still human, and in this case there was an external influencing factor that caused him to do this.
He responded soon after the game stating that he would "bounce back" from this.
Again he demonstrated his choice in saying that he will bounce back, but at the same time, his ability to bounce back is something that he is able to control.
Perhaps he shouldn't have been so lackadaisical in placing the ball or celebrated before placing it, but I believe that he will come back stronger for this.
SO WHAT? What could happen now:
I would say that the immediate response would involve techniques which may help him cope with the recent experience, how he has interpreted it, and the barrage of criticism that has come with it.
Once this is done, he may perhaps learn and practice some arousal control techniques. This is because this is a clear example of how emotion and arousal can overwhelm us in certain situations. With a profession such as his and the added responsibilities that he holds, it is important that he remains as 'cool as a cucumber', especially during high pressure/crucial moments.
Finally, it is vital that he retains the social support that he is receiving from the likes of his captain Rhys Priestland who has faith that Freddie will "bounce back". This phrase could have a number of metaphorical connotations which will help him return to pre-mistake performance due to the potential powerful image that it can evoke. This is vital as this situation could potentially have a number of detrimental effects to his confidence.
There is however the larger issue where the captain has called for a banishment to celebrations as this is not the first time this season that this has happened. This could be a blog for another time, but feel free to comment and share your thoughts on the information above or the removal of celebrations.