Prater kicks record 64-yard field goal
It was almost an out-of-place celebration, but when Matt Prater's kick was up and good for the Denver Broncos just before halftime on Sunday, most of his teammates rushed the field to mob him in a game the Broncos still were losing 21-20 at the time.
But history has a way of doing that to people.
Prater's kick, out of an Aaron Brewer snap and a Britton Colquitt hold, set an NFL record, at 64 yards, and gave the Broncos a tidy boost along the way as they went on to a 51-28 victory at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.
"Such an awesome moment, I'm glad it came in a win," Prater said. "It was crazy, it was awesome because almost the whole team rushed the field after that kick. It definitely was a momentum swing."
Added coach John Fox: "No doubt it energised our team."
Prater's kick broke the previous NFL record of 63 yards, held by Tom Dempsey (1970), former Broncos kicker Jason Elam (1998), Sebastian Janikowski (2011) and David Akers (2012). Janikowski had also missed on a 64-yard attempt in 2007, and a 76-yard attempt in '08.
Three of the five kicks of at least 63 yards have been made in Denver, as Elam's and Janikowski's 63-yarders were also made at the Broncos' home stadium, which sits at an elevation of 5,280 feet.
However, a kicking ball and a temperature measured at -10 degrees Celsius at the time might have eliminated, in Prater's opinion, at least some of the aid found in Denver's thin air.
"It was little tough, especially the first couple kicks, but by that time my foot was numb anyway," Prater said with a smile. "I felt like I hit it pretty good, but I didn't know, but I honestly thought it was going to be real close, but they put the return guy back there and I saw him backing up and thought I was going to have to cover this.
"I was just trying to blast it and I thought I hit it pretty well."
The Broncos took over on their 15-yard line with just 52 seconds remaining in the first half. After a false start penalty to open the drive, the Broncos moved to their own 46 in six plays, including an 18-yard completion from Peyton Manning to Demaryius Thomas to convert a third-and-10, to go with a 7-yard completion from Manning to tight end Jacob Tamme that put the Broncos in position for the kick with three seconds remaining in the half. Prater consistently hits 60-yarders in pregame warm-ups, and consistently hits kicks longer than 60 yards in practice.
"I've hit them in the 70s in practice," he said.
It was the 20th kick of at least 50 yards in Prater's career. He's now 20-of-26 on attempts of at least 50 yards, the most accurate mark since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970 for kickers with at least 20 of those attempts.
"I knew he had the leg for it,'' Broncos wide receiver Eric Decker said.
"We've got a lot of confidence in Matt's leg," Fox said. "You always kind of dream of that opportunity occurring and then being able to kick it. In those conditions, it was really pretty miraculous. It was a great kick ... He nailed it. We just got done giving him a game ball for breaking that record."
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