Justin Tucker's field goal record is likely to last for some time

When Tom Dempsey hit a 63 yard field goal for the New Orleans Saints in 1970, it could have ushered in a new era of long kicks. Instea...


When Tom Dempsey hit a 63 yard field goal for the New Orleans Saints in 1970, it could have ushered in a new era of long kicks. Instead, it was an anomaly, so much so that it took decades for another kicker to match it.

It took 51 years to break the NFL record by 3 more yards, as Justin Tucker of the Baltimore Ravens did on Sunday with a field goal of 66 yards. It’s worth asking: why have field goal records generally held up for so long, and why are they broken by such small margins?

Dempsey’s kick, with two seconds remaining, won the game for the Saints over the Detroit Lions at Tulane Stadium. He smashed the previous record for 56 yards set in 1953 by the Colts’ Bert Rechichar – a defensive back attempting the first basket of his career.

“The snap was perfect, the ball was perfectly placed – and I had the strength,” Dempsey said a day later. “I’m still stunned today thinking about it.”

On top of that kick, Dempsey, died last year at age 73 complications from the coronavirus, is known for its shoes. He was born without toes on his right foot, and when kicking he wore a custom shoe with a flattened toe surface.

The 63-yarder has gone down in NFL lore and was unmatched for 43 years – 20 years older than Bob Beamon’s epic long jump at the 1968 Olympics that became synonymous with shattering records.

There was only one kick from 60 yards or more in the 1980s and two more in the 1990s: In 1998, Jason Elam of the Broncos tied Dempsey’s record.

But the new century has brought bigger, stronger, more skilled kickers and an explosion of successful kicks from over 60 yards, including 21 to date. In 2013, the Broncos’ Matt Prater finally broke Dempsey’s record with 64 yards.

On Sunday, Tucker went 2 yards better, scoring a 66 yard field goal at the end of the time limit. The ball hit the crossbar, jumped in the air and fell through the uprights to win the game for the Ravens.

By a small coincidence, the game winners of Dempsey and Tucker faced off against the Lions. In a huge coincidence, both games ended with a score of 19-17.

“I don’t really have the words to do it justice at the moment”, Tucker said after the game.

The comparative assault of successful long kicks over the past decades can be attributed to increasingly bigger and fitter kickers, and improvements in technique, starting with the move to style kicks. soccer. Many stadiums are also now domed, reducing obstacles caused by wind and weather.

Yet the record has only increased by 3 meters – nine feet – since 1970. Why is that?

It’s not that field goals have fallen into disuse: the number of team attempts has been stable over the past six decades. Field kickers have become much more accurate since 1970, making 85% of their kicks last season to just 59% back then. In theory, they should have the ability to do much longer kicks than they do.

But to hit a very long field goal, teams must attempt a very long field goal, and such attempts are not routine. During the 2020 season, 168 field goals of 50 yards or more have been attempted. Only 10 of them were 60 meters or more, and only three were 65 meters or more.

One of the reasons is the position on the pitch. If a midfield attempt fails, the opponent retrieves the ball from where the ball was spotted. Even a bad punt that resulted in a touchback would give the other team the ball to their own 20s.

It is no coincidence that Tucker’s kick came with the passage of time and the game in play. Position considerations on the pitch mean that you probably only want to try a very long kick. foot because the time expires in the half or in the game. And if it is the fourth quarter, there is no point in attempting a long field goal unless you are less than 3 points behind your opponent . This combination of circumstances does not come up too many times a season.

Quarterbacks ‘arms improve as fast or faster than kickers’ legs. A Hail Mary essay can be just as appealing as a long kick to many coaches. The teams have also started treat long passes in a more scientific way, setting up special blocking patterns and analyzing opponents’ tendencies, rather than just throwing the ball and praying.

Plus, Tucker’s 66-yard player barely passed the bar. The Canadian Football League record is 62 yards, and the major college record, without a tee, is 65. Kickers have sometimes scored over 70 yards in practice, but in a game, how many? time can a kicker really go?

There is another gross downside to trying a really long field goal. Also on Sunday, the Cardinals’ Prater shot a 68-yard shot against the Jaguars at the end of the first half. If he had, Tucker’s kick would have been an afterthought.

But Prater failed on the prodigious kick. And the point is, you can return a failed cart. Jamal Agnew caught Prater’s short kick and sent him back 109 yards for a touchdown. A game that had a small chance of getting 3 points from the Cardinals gave the Jags 6 instead.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Justin Tucker's field goal record is likely to last for some time
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