Denver kicker Matt Prater kicked an NFL-record 64-yard field goal as the first half expired in the Broncos’ game against Tennessee on Sunday.
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Prater’s kick on a clear day in 14-degree weather with nary a hint of wind barely cleared the crossbar.
Prater spread his arms and hollered. His holder, Britton Colquitt, jumped on his back in jubilation as their teammates rushed into the tunnel for halftime.
The record-breaking kick cut Tennessee’s lead to 21-20 at the break.
The 64-yarder bested the record of 63 set by New Orleans’ Tom Dempsey in 1970 and tied by Denver’s Jason Elam in 1998, Oakland’s Sebastian Janikowski in 2011 and San Francisco’s David Akers last season.
Janikowski’s and Elam’s kicks also came in Denver’s thin air.
Prater has long said he figured his only chance of breaking the record would be to do it in September before the weather gets nasty in Denver.
But this was the coldest game of the season for the Broncos, although the temperature at kickoff of 18 degrees was much better than it had been during the week, when the Broncos practiced in temperatures ranging from zero to 3 degrees.
It didn’t appear Prater would get his chance at a long field goal when the Broncos got the ball with 52 seconds left in the first half because Steven Johnson’s block-in-the-back penalty moved Denver back to its 15-yard line. Then, a false start on right tackle Orlando Franklin moved them back to the 10.
They lost their last timeout when receiver Wes Welker was injured moments later, so they ran a play to Jacob Tamme, who got out of bounds at the Tennessee 46 with 3 seconds left.
That brought out the field goal unit and Colquitt lined up at the right hash mark on the 46 on Denver’s side of the 50-yard line.
Titans kick returner Leon Washington lined up at the back of the end zone, ready to return the ball if it fell short — after all, nobody had ever kicked one that far in a game, although kickers nowadays routinely kick them farther in warm-ups without a rush or pressure.
All Washington had, however, was the best view of the longest field goal in NFL history, turning to watch it clear the crossbar, then trotting off the field as the officials raised their arms in the air.