Detroit Lions: Top 5 Matt Prater moments in Motown

Matt Prater, Detroit Lions (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images)
Matt Prater, Detroit Lions (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images) /
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Matt Prater, Detroit Lions
Matt Prater, Detroit Lions (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images) /

4. 59-yard game winner to bail out his defense (2020)

All things considered, I have a difficult time ranking this one any higher due to the disappointing collapse and blown leads that made a 59-yard attempt on the final play even necessary. For a team with ambitions to be playing meaningful games in December and beyond, you simply have to hold a 24-3 second half lead against a 2-6 squad that doesn’t even have a logo.

Three consecutive late touchdown drives from Alex Smith (having a career day despite going nearly two years between NFL starts) erased any suggestion that the Lions would finally have an easy Sunday afternoon.

A clutch drive and shorter field goal a few minutes earlier still hadn’t been enough, as Washington tied the game again in the closing seconds. The hapless inability for the defense to make a big stop, something that’s been the case for three years in a row now, takes a little bit of the shine off an otherwise great ending.

Of course, none of this is Matt Prater’s fault. He’d already been called upon to drill a 37-yard field goal to regain the lead with under three minutes to play. When the defense once again folded (to be fair, this one was aided by a viciously poor pass interference call on a do-or-die 4th down), Matthew Stafford had just sixteen seconds to move the ball back into Prater range. As opponents should know by now, leaving sixteen seconds is sixteen too many if Matthew Stafford is on the other sideline.

Already the owner of the longest field goal in NFL history, Prater lined up in the dead center of the Lions logo at midfield and uncorked one more blast from 59-yards away.  Despite it looking like a left hook coming off his foot, Prater’s boot corrected course in mid-flight and found its way across the bar.

Only three game-winning kicks as time expired have ever been from farther out. Say what you will about the struggles he’s had in the first half of the season, but this strike certainly proves that the rumors of Prater’s demise have been greatly exaggerated.