The new NFL season may be a few months away, but there is still plenty going on with teams back in light training, while others are still assessing their rosters after April’s NFL Draft.
Kicker Adam Vinatieri is in the headlines this week after the four-time Super Bowl champion called time on his career after 24 fantastic seasons.
The 48-year-old, who is destined for the Hall of Fame, made the announcement after spending 12 months on the sidelines without a team.
Vinatieri holds several records, including career field goals made (599), points scored (2,673) and consecutive field goals made (44).
His retirement got us thinking about the longest successful field goals in history, and we have assessed the top five as excitement builds ahead of the new season.
1. Matt Prater, Denver Broncos – 64 yards (2013)
Prater currently plies his trade with the Arizona Cardinals, but his 64-yard attempt back in 2013 for the Denver Broncos is the longest successful field goal in history.
The 36-year-old drilled home his effort on the stroke of half-time in cold conditions before his teammates mobbed him. His strike galvanised the team, with the Broncos going on to win 51-28 against the Tennessee Titans.
2. Tom Dempsey, New Orleans Saints – 63 yards (1970)
Dempsey sits second in the list after converting his kick way back in 1970. Unlike other kickers who use the more conventional “soccer” technique, Dempsey used a straight-toe style.
He was born without toes on his right foot and wore a modified shoe with a flattened and enlarged toe surface. At the time, Bert Rechichar’s 56-yard effort held the record, but Dempsey eclipsed it as he made history.
Sadly, the former Saints ace is no longer with us, but his famous kick will be remembered forever.
3. Jason Elam, Denver Broncos – 63 yards (1998)
The Broncos have enjoyed their fair share of high-quality kickers in the past, and Jason Elam’s effort sits third in the all-time list.
Elam was added to the Broncos’ roster in the third round of the 1993 draft and, five years later, he made his mark with a stunning 63-yard effort against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Elam went wild once his effort sailed over the post, and he sits third in the all-time list at present.
4. Sebastian Janikowski, Oakland Raiders – 63 yards (2011)
Janikowski had already entered the record books in 2009 when he converted a 61-yard effort against the Cleveland Browns.
Two years after his first attempt, he converted another stunning effort, although, in his own words, he claimed it barely made it over the bar. To make the top 10 with two kicks is an incredible achievement and it could be decades before either of his strikes are beaten.
5. David Akers, San Fransisco 49ers – 63 yards (2012)
Even though Akers’ effort is fifth on the all-time list, he deserves some praise for his strike against the Green Bay Packers.
Lambeau Field, the home of the Packers, is not the easiest place to kick, but Akers went for glory anyway.
Out of all of the kicks we have mentioned, Akers’ might be the most dramatic as his effort rattled the crossbar before bouncing over.
He described it as a “once-in-a-lifetime type of a deal”, and it is hard to argue as he took his career mark from 50-plus above an impressive 50 percent.
The Longest Field Goal Attempt in NFL History
While not successful, the longest ever attempted field goal in an NFL game was a 76-yard try from Sebastian Janikowski in 2008. With just one second remaining before half-time, Oakland Raiders coach Lane Kiffen took the unorthodox decision to attempt a record field goal versus the San Diego Chargers rather than to go for the Hail Mary. Janikowski had a big leg – as you can see from his appearance on our list of longest successful kicks – but he came up quite a bit short this time around.
Successful 70-Yard Kicks in NFL Warm-Ups
It will only be a matter of time before the NFL field goal record is broken, and numerous kickers have already proved that they have the leg to make bigger kicks. When KC played in the altitude of Mexico City, Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker nailed a 70-yarder with room to spare in his warm-up.
And that man Janikowski showed why he is known as The Polish Cannon when he rifled home an effort from the same distance when warming up for the game versus Denver. (The same game where he would go on to make his record-breaking 63-yard kick).