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Broncos kicker Matt Prater kicks NFL record 64-yard field goal as first half expires

  • d409049a4c6d5f29450f6a706700caf5.jpg

    Denver Broncos kicker Matt Prater, left, celebrates a 64-yard field goal with Britton Colquitt during the first half of an NFL football game against the Tennessee Titans on Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey) (The Associated Press)

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    Denver Broncos kicker Matt Prater, bottom, celebrates 64-yard field goal with Britton Colquitt during the first half of an NFL football game against the Tennessee Titans on during the first half of an NFL football game on Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey) (The Associated Press)

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    Denver Broncos kicker Matt Prater, right, kicks a 64-yard field goal as Britton Colquitt holds during the first half of an NFL football game against the Tennessee Titans on Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey) (The Associated Press)

Matt Prater had a cold, and was dealing with icy temperatures and history as he lined up to kick the frigid football from his 46-yard line.

Nobody in the NFL had ever kicked a football through the uprights from this far away — 64 yards.

Tom Dempsey, Jason Elam, Sebastian Janikowski, David Akers. They had all done it from 63 yards.

Yet even as his right foot was numb, Prater's nerves were calm.

Tight end Jacob Tamme would tell him after Denver's 51-28 win over Tennessee a couple hours later that he stepped out of bounds at the Titans 46 on purpose so that he'd get a shot at the record. And for that, he owes him a steak dinner.

Prater cleared his mind, intent on not changing his routine.

"I just try to treat all those long ones the same and just basically try to blast them and hopefully they go straight," he said.

It was 14 degrees, clear, a slight breeze at his back.

"I felt like I hit it pretty good. And I didn't know. I honestly thought it was going to be really close."

As he tracked the ball on its descent, Prater noticed Titans kick returner Leon Washington waiting to return the ball if it fell short. "And I saw him backing up, so I was like, 'Oh, gosh, we might actually have to cover this.'"

Broncos coach John Fox said he's sure everybody in the stadium was thinking of the great game last month when Chris Davis returned a missed field-goal attempt 100 yards for a TD on the final play to lift Auburn to a win over then-No. 1 Alabama, upending the two-time defending national champion's BCS hopes and preserving the Tigers' own.

"That was a concern," Fox said. "But he nailed it."

All Washington could do was turn and watch it clear the crossbar, a birds-eye view of the historic kick.

"I saw it all the way. It went maybe 3 inches over the bar, so good job by him," said Washington, who trotted off with his head down as the officials raised their arms on either side of him and the Broncos celebrated like they'd won the game already.

The Broncos still trailed 21-20 at halftime.

"Even though we were down one if felt like it was tied or almost like we had the lead," Peyton Manning would say after the Broncos finished off the Titans.

Holder Britton Colquitt jumped on Prater's back before they headed toward the tunnel.

"I think he was more excited than I was," Prater said.

Prater added a 19-yarder in the second half after the Broncos failed to score from the 1-yard line.

That means, Prater had both the longest and the shortest field goals in the same game.

"Yeah, it's a good day at the office," Prater said.

And he treated both the same — almost.

"Well, the 19-yarder you'd better not miss it," Prater said. "That's the only difference."

His 64-yarder bested the record of 63 set by New Orleans' club-footed Dempsey in 1970 and tied by Denver's Elam in 1998, Oakland's Janikowski in 2011 and San Francisco's Akers last season.

Janikowski's and Elam's kicks also came in Denver's thin air.

Prater will counter anybody's argument over the altitude with the fact it was freezing on this day.

"Yes, it kind of takes out the altitude factor," he said.

Normally before games Prater tests out his range on both goal posts but it was so cold — 18 degrees at kickoff, 14 when he set the record — that he didn't bother.

"I didn't really test it out too much because it was so cold I didn't think we would kick one that far. I went back to I think 61 maybe," Prater said.

With the Broncos trailing 21-17, though, he knew anything from 64 and in was a go.

"Yeah, I'd say that was the limit," Prater said.

He never would have attempted one from that far going toward the other end zone and into the wind.

While his teammates couldn't wait for hot showers, Prater spent 10 minutes in the cold tub after the game.

"I always cold tub after the game to help freshen up my legs," he said. "Kickers are all weird."

Except that he stands alone now.

___

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org