Two NFL kickers attempted record-breaking field goals during Sunday’s Week 3 action, and the end results could not have been more different.
Matt Prater, who knows a thing or two about record-setting kicks, was up first. With the Arizona Cardinals at the 50-yard line and just two seconds left before halftime, Prater lined up for a 68-yard field goal. His kick landed in the arms of Jacksonville Jaguars return specialist Jamal Agnew, who lived up to his title with an NFL-record-tying, 109-yard touchdown return to end the half.
Less than two hours after Prater and the Cardinals’ mishap, Justin Tucker stepped up.
Down one point, quarterback Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens got the ball to the Detroit Lions’ 48-yard line in the final seconds. The team sent out Tucker, a four-time All-Pro, with the game -- and history -- on the line.
With a shuffle, a powerful swing of his right leg and a boost from the crossbar, Tucker had just enough to set an NFL record.
The Ravens won the game 19-17 and Tucker’s name was etched into the NFL record books. But whose record did he beat?
Here’s a look at where Tucker’s kick stacks up against the previous records:
What is the longest field goal in NFL history?
Justin Tucker holds the distinction after launching his game-winning kick at Ford Field on Sunday. He broke the record previously held by Prater, who drilled a 64-yard attempt with the Denver Broncos to end the first half in a 2013 contest against the Tennessee Titans.
While Tucker had the benefit of playing inside a dome in Detroit, Prater’s kick came at Mile High in Denver. The elevation causes lower air density, which leads to further distances on throws, punts and kicks.
Tucker’s kick set an NFL record, but it is still well short of the NCAA record. On Oct. 16, 1976, Abilene Christian’s Ove Johansson uncorked a 69-yard field goal against East Texas State.
With the kick, Johansson broke a collegiate record that had stood for less than 20 minutes. Across the state, Texas A&M’s Tony Franklin hit a then-record-breaking 64-yarder against Baylor at 2:20 p.m. CT. Johansson’s kick went through around 2:40 p.m. CT.
What is the longest field goal attempt in NFL history?
The longest field goal attempt in NFL history would have clobbered both Tucker’s record and Johansson’s.
Oakland Raiders head coach Lane Kiffin opted to send out Sebastian Janikowski for a 74-yard kick at the end of the first half of a 2008 game against the San Diego Chargers instead of giving quarterback JaMarcus Russell a chance to throw a Hail Mary. From his own 34-yard line, Janikowski booted a kick that went right of the goal posts and failed to reach the end zone. Unlike the Cardinals with Agnew on Sunday, the Raiders wrapped up Antonio Cromartie on his return attempt.
What are the 10 longest field goals in NFL history?
Tucker holds the top spot, while Prater was relegated to second on the podium.
There are six kickers tied for third with 63-yarders and four kickers tied for ninth all-time with 62-yarders.
1. Justin Tucker, 66 yards (Ravens at Lions, 2021)
2. Matt Prater, 64 yards (Broncos vs. Titans, 2013)
T-3. Brett Maher, 63 yards (Cowboys vs. Eagles, 2019)
T-3. Sebastian Janikowski, 63 yards (Raiders at Broncos, 2011)
T-3. Graham Gano, 63 yards (Panthers vs. Giants, 2018)
T-3. Jason Elam, 63 yards (Broncos vs. Jaguars, 1998)
T-3. David Akers, 63 yards (49ers at Packers, 2012)
T-3. Tom Dempsey, 63 yards (Saints vs. Lions, 1970)
T-9. Matt Prater, 62 yards (Cardinals vs. Vikings, 2021)
T-9. Brett Maher, 62 yards (Cowboys at Jets, 2019)
T-9. Brett Maher, 62 yards (Cowboys vs. Eagles, 2018)
T-9. Stephen Gostkowski, 62 yards (Patriots vs. Raiders, 2017)
T-9. Matt Bryant, 62 yards (Buccaneers vs. Eagles, 2006)
One common thread between these kicks, aside from astonishing distance, is that they all came at the end of a half. While at other points in the game it might make sense to punt from such a distance, the expiring clock has led to more coaches taking a chance with their kickers to put some points on the board. Of these 13 kicks, three were game-winners and 10 came at the end of the first half.
Only four of the NFL’s 62-plus-yard kicks were made inside domes. The other nine occurred at outside venues, including three in Denver and one in Mexico City, where Gostkowski also benefited from some elevation.
What’s the longest NFL field goal in 2021 after Justin Tucker’s game-winning 66-yard field goal?
Prater may have been on the wrong end of a long field goal attempt on Sunday, but he showed just how strong his leg still is in Week 2 against the Minnesota Vikings when he capped off a chaotic first half by nailing a 62-yarder at State Farm Stadium.
A kick like that will give a coach some faith that a 68-yarder is possible, though the Cardinals’ field goal unit might need to practice its coverage to prevent another kick-six.