Detroit Was Blessed With Great Kicking, After a Year and Half of Disiray, Prater Answered the Call!
Detroit was known for years for kicking field goals. Jason Hanson gave us 20 solid years kicking field goals and extra points for the team. He was, at times, the teams best player. He finished his career being 665/673 on extra points and 495/601 on field goals, his longest would be from 56 yards out. So when he retired at age 42, Lions fans were worried. The one solid position on the team for years was now gone and they didn’t have anyone to turn to that had some practice and experience.
So How Did We End Up With Prater?
David Akers was the one to replace Jason Hanson and in his only season with the Lions he didn’t kick poorly. He only missed one extra point and was 19/24 on field goal attempts. He would retire after the 2013 season, so Detroit was back to square one.
Detroit drafted Nate Freese in the seventh round in the 2014 NFL Draft and fans thought he was the next Jason Hanson. In his last two seasons at Boston College he was 64/65 on extra points and 38/40 on field goals. He only lasted three games in the NFL as he would go 3/7 on field goal attempts, doubling his misses in the previous two years.
Detroit lost games because of Freese, so when Alex Henery was signed to replace him the pressure was on his shoulders to impress. He only lasted two games after making just one of five field goals. He cost Detroit like Freese did and there didn’t seem any other options for Detroit.
Then he came.
Matt Prater was suspended for four games by the NFL for substance abuse as he was dealing with alcohol issues. He finished the year going 21/26 on field goal attempts and the organization felt comfortable with Prater. The Lions signed him quickly for a three year deal for $9 million and here we are.
Matt Prater We Pray To You
Since that 2014 season, Prater has been a solid kicker for the Lions. He is 59/64 on extra points and 48/53 on field goal attempts. This year has been better than the previous two. Prater has kicked four game winning field goals, one game tying field goal and one that would extend the teams lead with less than 30 seconds left on the clock. He is 25/25 on game winning or tying field goals.
Without his excellent field goal kicking against the Saints last week, Detroit wouldn’t have won. He brought 17 points, which is impressive among itself. Prater is becoming the most clutch kicker in the NFL and is butting heads with Justin Tucker for the best kicker in the NFL title.
We are lucky to have Prater and snag him when Denver let him go. The team was one to take a risk on him during his dark times and it seems that he appreciates them for that second chance when he re-signed in 2015. He seems like he will be around for much longer after his contract expires in 2017.
What will we do when he finally retires? Let’s not go through that again right now, and enjoy the ride before it ends.