What is the Longest Made Field Goal Kick in NFL History?

What is the Longest Made Field Goal Kick in NFL History?

What is the Longest Made Field Goal Kick in NFL History?

In the realm of professional American football, the field goal stands as a crucial component of a team's scoring strategy.

The ability to accurately kick a field goal, especially from long distances, demands exceptional skill and precision.

Over the decades, numerous players have attempted and succeeded in making remarkable field goals, but one particular kick stands out as the longest made field goal in NFL history.

The Record-Setting Kick

On September 12, 2013, in a regular-season game between the Denver Broncos and the Baltimore Ravens, Matt Prater, the placekicker for the Broncos, etched his name into the annals of NFL history.

The game, held at Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver, Colorado, witnessed an extraordinary display of kicking prowess. With just over two minutes remaining in the first half, the Broncos faced a fourth down at the Baltimore 45-yard line.

This set the stage for Matt Prater to attempt a 64-yard field goal, a distance that had never been conquered in the history of the NFL.

As the ball soared off Prater's foot, it sailed through the uprights, breaking the previous record of 63 yards set by David Akers, Tom Dempsey, Jason Elam, and Sebastian Janikowski. Prater's remarkable kick not only secured three crucial points for the Broncos but also secured his place in NFL history.

The Evolution of Long-Distance Field Goals

The history of long-distance field goals in the NFL is a testament to the evolving skill and technique of placekickers.

Prior to the 1970 merger of the NFL and AFL, the goal posts were positioned at the front of the end zone, which meant that any field goal attempted from beyond the opponent's 40-yard line was a 50+ yard attempt. As a result, long-distance field goals were relatively rare.

In the modern era, changes in playing conditions, advancements in training methods, and improvements in kicking equipment have contributed to an increase in the frequency and success rate of long-distance field goals. 

Also, the league's focus on player safety and rule changes aimed at protecting quarterbacks have led to more emphasis on field goal attempts in certain game situations.

Factors Affecting Long-Distance Field Goals

The ability to successfully make a long-distance field goal is influenced by a multitude of factors, including:

  • Kicker's Technique: Placekickers must possess exceptional strength, accuracy, and timing to propel the ball over long distances with precision.
  • Weather Conditions: Wind speed and direction, temperature, and altitude can significantly impact the trajectory and distance of a field goal attempt.
  • Playing Surface: The type and condition of the field surface can affect a kicker's plant foot and the ball's bounce, potentially influencing the outcome of the kick.
  • Pressure Situation: The mental fortitude of the kicker plays a pivotal role, especially in high-pressure game situations or record-setting attempts.

Notable Long-Distance Field Goals

While Matt Prater's 64-yard field goal holds the record for the longest made field goal in NFL history, several other remarkable kicks have left a lasting impact on the sport:

  • Tom Dempsey's 63-Yard Kick: In 1970, Tom Dempsey, born with a deformed right foot and no right hand, set a then-record with a 63-yard field goal, a mark that stood for over four decades.
  • Jason Elam and Sebastian Janikowski: Both kickers successfully made 63-yard field goals during their careers, showcasing the increasing proficiency in long-distance kicking.
  • Justin Tucker's 66-Yard Kick: In 2021, Justin Tucker of the Baltimore Ravens set the record for the longest regular-season field goal with a 66-yard kick, surpassing Matt Prater's mark.

 

The art of long-distance field goal kicking in the NFL continues to captivate fans and players alike.

As the league evolves and athletes push the boundaries of their physical abilities, it is conceivable that the record for the longest made field goal will be challenged and perhaps even surpassed in the future.

Ultimately, each monumental kick serves as a testament to the extraordinary skill and unwavering determination of the kickers who have left an indelible mark on the sport.


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