In Week 3, Detroit Lions kicker Matt Prater boomed two deep field goals of 55+ yards, a luxury many other teams don’t have.
It’s what fans hate to see happen. The Detroit Lions are moving the ball into enemy territory and the drive stalls. It’s fourth down and long just inside the 40-yard line. You’d rather see the next end zone celebration, but instead, in comes the kicking unit. The field goal kicking unit.
This is a luxury. Many other teams in the NFL would find themselves in “no man’s land” where it’s too far to try a field goal yet almost too close to punt. But for the Detroit Lions, placekicker Matt Prater is money from this range.
In Sunday’s effort, Prater was 4-of-4 in field goal attempts while hitting from 55 and 57 yards. He’s connected from 55+ yards in three consecutive weeks to start the season. And, according to ESPN’s Michael Rothstein, he’s setting NFL records:
"“Matt Prater is the second player ever to make 10 field goals of 55 yards or more. He’s made 11 straight field goals of at least 50 yards and hit 30 field goals from 50 yards or more since 2011 — the most in the NFL during that time frame,” noted Rothstein."
Prater also set the single-season record for the field goals made from 55+ yards.
The two long-distance bombs on Sunday added six points to the scoreboard that were by no means automatic. In a game that came down to a few inches short of victory, it’s worth pointing out how the Lions were fortunate to be so close thanks to these big kicks.
The Lions have played against some tough defenses including some secondaries with big-name players in both the Arizona Cardinals and New York Giants. And, of course, the defending NFC champion Atlanta Falcons are no slouch on defense. When these defenses held the Lions offense out of the end zone, Prater has been a very capable option to put points on the board.
Kickers might be an afterthought in fantasy football. But for the Lions, Prater’s value is anything but a fantasy. And he shouldn’t be taken for granted.