With narrow margins often deciding football games, teams regularly call upon kickers to add crucial points — three at a time — to the scoreboard. In 2022, the average distance of an NFL field goal attempt was 39.9 yards, but sometimes, in particularly close games, teams go for much longer attempts, a risky move that could benefit a competitor if it goes wrong.
Learn more about the longest field goal, NFL edition, as well as other notable attempts.
Why Long Field Goals Are Risky
There's a reason many a long field goal is a game-winning kick. Due to circumstance, teams sometimes have no choice but to trust their fate to the feet of the kicker. In other stages of the game, it's often more prudent to punt the ball away than to attempt a field goal of near-historic lengths.
A missed attempt leads to possession reverting to the opposing team at the spot of the kick, which is about 7 yards behind the line of scrimmage. For example, a missed 60-yard field goal would give the opposing team possession on their own 43-yard line, increasing the likelihood that the opposing team will score points on the next possession.
The Longest Field Goals in NFL History
Not only did these players make NFL history, but a couple overachieving kickers like Brett Maher and Matt Prater landed at the top of the list more than once.
5-way Tie for 4th Longest Distance: 62 Yards
Matt Bryant: For 11 years, Bryant held the record on his own. He kicked the 62-yarder in 2011 as part of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Stephen Gostkowski: In 2017, Gostkowski, a former kicker for the New England Patriots, joined Bryant.
Brett Maher: Brett Maher hit 62 yards in 2018.
Matt Prater: In 2021, the Arizona Cardinals' Prater kicked his first 62-yarder. He did it again in 2023.
Harrison Butker: Just as time expired in the first half of a game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Buffalo Bills, Butker made a 62-yard field goal.
6-way Tie for 3rd Longest Distance: 63 Yards
In 1970, Tom Dempsey, of the New Orleans Saints, kicked a 63-yard field goal. His record stood for 43 years. But he is not the only kicker to make a 63-yard field goal during an NFL game.
Tom Dempsey: Dempsey broke the record in 1970 as part of the New Orleans Saints.
Jason Elam: In 1998, 28 years after Dempsey, Jason Elam, of the Broncos, tied the record.
Sebastian Janikowski: In 2011, Sebastian Janikowski joined Elam and Dempsey with his 63-yard field goal for the Oakland Raiders.
David Akers: Akers matched the record in 2012 while playing for the San Francisco 49ers.
Graham Gano: In 2018, Carolina Panthers' Graham Gano made a 63-yard field goal.
Brett Maher: A year after successfully hitting a 62-yard field goal, Maher kicked a 63-yarder in 2019 for the Dallas Cowboys.
No. 2: 64 Yards
Matt Prater held the NFL field goal record for eight years. Then a part of the Denver Broncos, Prater successfully hit a 64-yard field goal in 2013. He broke Tom Dempsey's 63-yard record, a highlight of his NFL career.
"Honestly, that was something I hoped my whole career just to get an opportunity to attempt one," Prater told ESPN. "So that made it all worthwhile all the years, and just to get an opportunity to get a chance at it."
While the altitude in the mile-high stadium can be an advantage, Prater and a former Broncos coach said that it didn't help that day. "I'm just telling you, it had to be one of the five coldest games I've been a part of," coach Jeff Rodgers told ESPN.
No. 1: 66 Yards
Justin Tucker, of the Baltimore Ravens, broke the previous record in 2021. With three seconds left in the fourth quarter, Tucker kicked for 66 yards, making it the longest field goal in NFL history. The game-winning field goal earned the Ravens a win against the Detroit Lions.
He didn't have as much luck before the start of the game. "As soon as it left my foot, I knew it was going to have a chance, but I was short from 65 in pregame both ways," he said. "For whatever reason, I just couldn't get the ball to just go and, thankfully, we found an extra yard-and-a-half that I didn't have three hours before and I'm grateful for that."
Longest Field Goal in Super Bowl History
On January 30, 1994, on the NFL's biggest stage, the Buffalo Bills' Steve Christie made a 54-yarder, the longest field goal at a Super Bowl game. The achievement happened early in his tenure with the New York team as he played for the Bills from 1992 to 2001.
Original article: Longest Field Goal: NFL Kickers Who Made History
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