There was what I’d call a fairly cool moment last night when Sebastian Janikowski tied an NFL record with a 63-yard field goal just as halftime arrived in Oakland’s 23-20 victory in Denver. But it certainly wasn’t the highlight of the night, let alone the weekend. It was just … fairly cool.
By comparison, here’s the immediate reaction to the first-ever 63-yard field goal in NFL history, back in 1970…
Now, in fairness to play-by-play man Don Criqui (the same Don Criqui who calls games for CBS today), Tom Dempsey’s field goal was also a game-winner. And the kick seemed crazier because the Saints were still positioned on their own side of the field (the uprights were located at the front of the end zone back then).
But the reaction was still a little insane, wasn’t it? And I think it was because field goals carried more weight in those days. Placekickers are far too accurate now, and scoring is up. As a result, we simply don’t place as much importance on field goals.
In 1970, the year Dempsey kicked his record-breaking field goal, the league’s kickers came together to make 59.4 percent of their attempts, and games averaged just 38.6 points.
Forty years later, in 2010, kickers hit a ridiculous 82.3 percent of their attempts, and the average game had 44.0 points. That number spiked to 47.0 over the course of Week 1 in 2011.
And long kicks were much more novel then, too. In ’70, there were only 17 successful field goal attempts from 50-plus yards — kickers were 23 percent from that mark and beyond. But last year, there were 59 field goals from that deep, with kickers converting 55 percent of attempts from that range.
It’s a different game, and the juxtaposition of Dempsey’s 63-yarder and Janikowski’s 63-yarder magnifies the changes that have occurred.
(Video via Bart Hubbuch of the NY Post)