Ah, the NFL kicker, so often the hero or villain during a closely contested game. He tends to be the final arbiter during nail-biters, placing the ball between the uprights for a glorious victory or firing wide — or short — in the final seconds of play. It’s a lot of pressure and one of the relatively few times during a football game where the name “football” actually makes sense.
With the Super Bowl less than a week away, we thought we’d take a look at some of the longest kicks in the history of the league. Most of us with a decent leg could kick the occasional point after. But some of the best pros have secured points through kicks well over 60 yards, something most thought impossible just a couple of generations ago.
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 after the Bengals meet the Rams this Sunday? We’ll have to wait and see.
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.
We may not see kicks from this distance on Sunday, but we’re almost guaranteed a great game. If nothing else, you’ll be treated to what promises to be an entertaining halftime performance. And you can’t go wrong by setting yourself up with all the appetizers, drinks, and party favors you need for the big event.
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