Thursday, April 11, 2019

The NFL's Real Deep Threats—Kickers

By John Turney
There have been 139 field goal attempts of 60 or more yards in the NFL since 1960. And only 14.4% have been good. We don't know for sure how many super-long field goal attempts occurred prior to 1960 though Sam Baker tried a 65-yarder in 1956 that fell short. It's possible there were a couple of others.

A handful of these super-long attempts were fair catch free kicks, a play that allows a team to have a free kick if they call a fair catch on the final play of a half.

This cart shows who have the 'cannon legs' and have been trusted more than a couple of times to even attempt such a kick.

Sebastian JanikowskiGreg Zuerlein, Jason Elam, Rob Bironas, and Justin Tucker are the only ones to attempt four or more 60+ field goals and Seabass and Legatron are the only ones to make more than one. Had the NFL not changed the rule in 1974 that took a missed field goal back to where the kick was attempted rather than it being, for all intents and purposes a touchback, we would have seen many, many more attempts, but unless it's at the end of a game or half, it's really too risky to try these types of kicks.

With the types of legs we've seen in the past couple of decades we may have seen guys hitting 65-, 67-yarders on occasion. Yes, back then (even now) a field goal that was short could be run back and that would have been a consideration. Long field goals might even need a gunner, leaving the protection a man short.

Regardless, it's fun to ruminate once in a while, to wonder what may have been had the rules not changed given the strong legs of today.


  1. I think Steve Cox deserves special mention. The only time he attempted FGs was from extremely long distances. He had a 58-yarder with Cleveland and a 57-yarder with Washington. Everyone had switched to soccer-style kickers, yet Cox was still toe-punching. Strange.

    1. He is on the list, he was 1 for 3 from 60 yards or more