After a wild offseason that included everything from big name trades to super stars staring at legal issues, the NFL is back. We’re settling into the 2022 season and so far, New York is looking like a legitimate football town and the Eagles — at least at the time this was written — are undefeated. But as we enjoy the action unfolding on the field and in the end zone, let’s not forget about the unsung hero of the game; the kicker.
In many ways, he’s a closer, forced to smash a ball through the uprights from distance as the clock expires. If it goes through, here’s a hero. If not, he’s deemed responsible for the loss. Sure, it seems pretty routine while they’re nailing point afters from the 15-yard line, but what about sending one more than half the field’s length?
We thought we’d take a look at some of the longest field goals in NFL history to celebrate the high stakes life of the kicker. As with a super sub in soccer or a pinch hitter in baseball, the kicker is always supposed to be ready. It could be snowing and he may have been on the bench pretty much the whole game, but at the end with a chance at glory, it’s all up to him (or her).
A few interesting and related facts: The longest field goal in Super Bowl history occurred in 1994 when the Buffalo Bills played the Dallas Cowboys. Steve Christie kicked a 54-yard bomb, putting his name in the history books, but his Bills ultimately lost the game. The longest field goal in college history is actually longer than the current NFL record. It happened back in 1976 in a game between Abilene Christian and East Texas State. Ove Johansson pulled off a 69-yard boot for ACU, still the farthest on record.
Here are the five longest kicks in NFL history. Will we have a new record at the end of this season. Time will tell, football fans.
Six players have nailed field goals from a distance of 63 yards. One could argue some were more difficult than others given weather conditions or the defensive lines each kicker was facing, but they’re all technically from the same impressive distance. Brett Maher is part of this elite group, having notched his three-point bomb in 2019 as his Cowboys took on the Eagles. The pressure wasn’t quite as high given the time of the kick (second quarter) and the Cowboys’ comfortable lead, but it’s still quite the feat.
Sebastian Janikowski of the Raiders did as much in 2011. He made it look easy, barely even taking a run-up. Apparently, the left-footer sunk a 70-yard field goal during pregame warmups that day. Graham Gano did it as a game-winner in 2018 with the Carolina Panthers. Down one against the Giants in an outdoor stadium, Gano squeezes the ball just inside the post before bedlam ensues. Jason Elam hit one that distance in 1998 with the Denver Broncos. Tom Dempsey did so, too, in 1970 with the New Orleans Saints.
The only other kicker to succeed during an NFL game from that distance is David Akers. The 49ers player blasted one from 63 yards in 2012 against the Green Bay Packers. It bounces off the crossbar and gets through the uprights, stunning all of Lambeau Field. Kicker Matt Prater holds the silver medal in the category. The Broncos kicker slugged a 64-yard field goal in December of 2013 against the Titans. It didn’t finish the game off but it did send Denver to the halftime tunnel extremely pumped up.
Justin Tucker is responsible for the longest field goal in NFL history. His 66-year blast for the Baltimore Ravens against the Detroit Lions last year was truly something to behold. It contains all of the drama the last play of the game — the fact that he’s kicking from well past the half-line, the ball barely clawing its way over the crossbar.
So, as we get ready for the second half of the season, remember to give a shout out to your favorite kickers. And while you’re watching games, consider some quality fall cocktails, tailgating gear, ice-cold beer, salty snacks, and chili. Also, it’s never too late to start thinking about the Super Bowl (and even if you don’t like the big game, you probably like the halftime performance).
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