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70 Yards? Justin Tucker Takes Aim at His Own Record in Denver

K Justin Tucker
K Justin Tucker

When the Ravens' schedule was released, one game stuck out to Justin Tucker – Week 4 at Empower Field at Mile High.

In Denver's high altitude and thin air, the ball can travel further. That's where Matt Prater had kicked a 63-yard field goal in 2013 to set the record for the longest field goal ever blasted in a game.

That game was on Dec. 8, a frigid 16-degree day in Denver, which made the ball hard as a rock and harder to clobber. This time, the Ravens will be playing there in early October and the weather forecast for Sunday's game is 70s and sunny.

"I know Justin. He's been looking forward to this game since they put it on the calendar," long snapper Nick Moore said on "The Lounge" podcast this week.


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"He's just excited. Everybody knows the ball goes farther in Colorado. … As a player, especially as a kicker, you think, 'How is it possible to break a 64-yard record?' Mile High Stadium is the place to break it. That's the ideal spot."

That was the thinking before Tucker boomed a record-setting 66-yard field goal last Sunday in Detroit. Now the buzz this week is whether Tucker can top himself just a week later, given more ideal conditions than the dome of Ford Field.

"We're going to try to break it. If we get a chance, we're going to try," Moore said. "Might as well. The guy's range is indefinite right now."

It took Prater 43 years to break the previous record of 63 yards, set by Tom Dempsey in 1970. Three other kickers tied Dempsey's record before Prater topped it. It took Tucker less than eight years to beat Prater.

With stronger legs and a more refined technique and overall process, kickers' range keeps getting longer. Just how far can anybody go? It's like The Space Race and the moon is 70 yards away.

"Seventy is the pinnacle," Moore said. "I think if you hit a 70-yard field goal, that's the end of it."

On the same day Tucker hit his 66-yarder, Prater (now with the Arizona Cardinals) attempted a 68-yard field goal in Jacksonville. It fell short and was returned 109 yards for a touchdown by the Jaguars' Jamal Agnew, which shows the dangers of attempting such long kicks.

That won't stop attempts if the circumstances are right, but opportunities are dwindling for kickers to line up the long ones with analytics pointing towards going for it more often on fourth down. Even Tucker doesn't attempt as many field goals as he used to because the Ravens have Lamar Jackson and a high-powered offense that will be kept on the field if it's a manageable down and distance. Often, it has to be end-of-half or end-of-game situations when lining up to kick is the only option.

Moore said the Ravens were well-aware of Prater's record before they lined up to kick the 66-yarder in Detroit.

"Yeah, we keep up with that," he said with a smile. "Our guy has the leg to do it, so that's definitely something on the radar. We always talk about the range we need for a field goal for situations like that. Anything on the plus side of the field is what Justin says."

A 70-yard field goal would mean not even getting to midfield.

The Ravens said everything had to be perfect – the snap, the hold, the kick – for Tucker to make the 66-yarder and that one doinked off the upright before going through. The conditions would have to be more than perfect for 70. Would thin air be enough? A wind at his back?

Well, Moore said Tucker lined up two 68-yard field goals in Wednesday's practice at the Under Armour Performance Center this week – and hit both.

"We see it all the time in practice. We hit 65-yard field goals in practice and he hits 70-yarders off the sticks," Moore said. "He doesn't make them all, but he makes enough to be like, 'Man, this guy can definitely make it from that far back.'"

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