the study of the kicking components within sports

Monday, September 13, 2010

NFL Week One: The Long Ball

Opening week of the 2010 NFL season saw plenty of big stories. The biggest of course was all the big legs (although technically leg speed is of more importance than leg size/strength). Six kickers hit field goals of over 50 yards.

Honorable Mentions
Before we get to the six long balls, it should be noted that fifty is an arbitrary number, which simply happens to be a round figure in our numerical system. Four other kickers made long field goals that almost made the list:
49 yarder by Neil Rackers, Houston Texans
49 yarder by Matt Bryant, Atlanta Falcons
49 yarder by Connor Barth, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
49 yarder by Graham Gano, Washington Redskins

51 yarder by Rian Lindell, Buffalo Bills
Lindell had two long field goal attempts during the second quarter of the loss to Miami. He was good on the first one, a 51 yarder midway through the period. He came up short on the second one as time expired in the first half. That would have been a far more memorable kick, as it would have tied the NFL longest FG record of 63 yards.

52 yarder by John Kasay, Carolina Panthers
Perhaps more notable than Kasay's 52 yard field goal against the Giants was his total of ten kicking points in the game. It moved him ahead of Norm Johnson into eighth place on the all-time NFL career scoring list.

52 yarder by Jeff Reed, Pittsburgh Steelers
Reed set a Heinz Field record with his 52 yard field goal early in the game against Atlanta. He almost broke the record again on his next kick, however his attempt from 55 yards hit the upright. On the day he was 3 of 5 on FGs. The other miss came from 40 yards in the final minute of the game with the score tied. He commented after the game:
"It's the last one that bugs me. I crushed it, perfect kick. It started right down the middle and knuckled off to the right at the last minute. I can't really explain anything. I can't blame the field. I can't blame anything. I thought it was a great kick, and I didn't make it.... I'm glad we came away with a win. I'm glad we're 1-0, but there won't be a lot of celebrating for me."
54 yarder by Mike Nugent, Cincinnati Bengals
Nugent's 54 yard field goal against New England tied his career best and is tied for second in club history. He noted afterward:
"It feels good to do but it is not like I am thinking about it when I am out there. We had good execution, a good snap, a good hold. Everything worked. At the time I was hoping we were coming back and it would get us going."
54 yarder by Matt Prater, Denver Broncos
Following a lightning delay, Prater tied the game against Jacksonville early in the fourth quarter with his 54 yard field goal in the rain. He is now 8 of 10 on career kicks from 50+ yards - best in the NFL.

56 yarder by Mason Crosby,
Green Bay Packers
On the final play of the first half against Philadelphia, Crosby made a 56 yard field goal. It broke the previous Packers' record shard by Chris Jacke, Ryan Longwell and Dave Rayner. Crosby noted that the play was scripted:
“Yea, that was exciting. That was the yard line we kind of set. Said let’s get to the 38 and they did exactly that. It was nice.… I guess I had a little energy going on that one. I just went out there and did my job. That’s kind of how I’m looking at this year. Everyone else is doing their job, I’ve got to go do mine.”

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