Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Prater sets FG record with Denver boot

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Gail Burton / The Associated Press

Snow falls as Minnesota Vikings quarterback Matt Cassel (centre) prepares to hand the ball off to running back Adrian Peterson (28) in the first half of the game against the Baltimore Ravens in Baltimore, Md., Sunday.

DENVER -- Matt Prater had a cold, and was dealing with icy temperatures and history as he lined up to kick the frigid football from his 46-yard line.

Nobody in NFL history had ever kicked a football through the uprights from this far away -- 64 yards.

Tom Dempsey, Jason Elam, Sebastian Janikowski, David Akers. They had all done it from 63 yards.

Yet even as his right foot was numb, Prater's nerves were calm.

Tight end Jacob Tamme would tell him after Denver's 51-28 win over Tennessee a couple of hours later that he stepped out of bounds at the Titans 46 on purpose so that he'd get a shot at the record. And for that, he owes him a steak dinner.

Prater cleared his mind, intent on not changing his routine.

"I just try to treat all those long ones the same and just basically try to blast them and hopefully they go straight," he said.

It was 14 degrees, clear, a slight breeze at his back.

"I felt like I hit it pretty good. And I didn't know. I honestly thought it was going to be really close."

As he tracked the ball on its descent, Prater noticed Titans kick returner Leon Washington waiting to return the ball if it fell short. "And I saw him backing up, so I was like, 'Oh, gosh, we might actually have to cover this.' "

All Washington could do was turn and watch it clear the crossbar, a birds-eye view of history.

"I saw it all the way. It went maybe three inches over the bar, so good job by him," said Washington, who trotted off with his head down as the officials raised their arms on either side of him and the Broncos celebrated like they'd won the game already.

"Maybe if I was another seven inches taller I could have jumped up and knocked it down," Washington said. "If we had somebody out there who was 6-6 or 6-5 they could maybe jump up and knock it down. So, I guess it kind of hurt me being 5-7."

The Broncos still trailed 21-20 at halftime.

"Even though we were down one if felt like it was tied or almost like we had the lead," Peyton Manning would say after the Broncos finished off the Titans 51-28.

Holder Britton Colquitt jumped on Prater's back before they headed toward the tunnel.

"I think he was more excited than I was," Prater said.

Prater added a 19-yarder in the second half after the Broncos failed to score from the one-yard line.

That means Prater had both the longest and the shortest field goals in the same game.

"Yeah, it's a good day at the office," Prater said.

And he treated both the same -- almost.

"Well, the 19-yarder you'd better not miss it," Prater said. "That's the only difference."

His 64-yarder bested the record of 63 set by New Orleans' club-footed Dempsey in 1970 and tied by Denver's Elam in 1998, Oakland's Janikowski in 2011 and San Francisco's Akers last season.

Janikowski's and Elam's kicks also came in Denver's thin air.

Prater will counter anybody's argument over the altitude with the fact it was freezing on this day.

"Yes, it kind of takes out the altitude factor," he said.

Normally before games Prater tests out his range on both goal posts but it was so cold -- 18 degrees at kickoff, 14 when he set the record -- that he didn't bother.

"I didn't really test it out too much because it was so cold I didn't think we would kick one that far."

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 9, 2013 0


Updated on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 8:30 AM CST: adds slideshow

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