Kickers dialing long distance this year

US Presswire

Sebastian Janikowski tied an NFL record with a 63-yard field goal against the Broncos in Week 1.

One of the potentially unrecognized, but quite significant, stories of the 2011 NFL season is the success of field goal kickers on long-distance kicks.

Through seven weeks, NFL kickers have made nearly 87 percent of their field goal tries, a rate that if managed through the duration of the season, would be the best in NFL history.

The reason that the success rate is so high is not due to the performance of kickers on shorter kicks. It’s due to their performance on longer ones.

The NFL success rate on field goal attempts of 40-to-49 yards this season is 80.8 percent. If that rate can be maintained, it would be far better than the current NFL record of 74.5 percent set in 2008.

FG Success Rate, FG of 50+ Yards
Last 5 Seasons

But the story actually grows in significance as we move the distances back.

NFL kickers are 41-for-58 on field goal attempts of at least 50 yards this season. That’s a success rate of 71 percent, which is extraordinary based on historical data. The NFL record, 63.8 percent was set in 2008.

If kickers can keep at their current success rate and pace (41 field goals of 50-plus yards in 103 games), it’s possible that there could be 100 made field goals from at least 50 yards this season. That would shatter the current record of 66, also set in 2008.

Here’s a look at several notable kicks of at least 50 yards this season:

Nick Folk, New York Jets

In the Jets' win over the Cowboys in Week 1, Folk hit the winning field goal, a 50-yarder with 27 seconds to play in the fourth quarter.

Sebastian Janikowski, Oakland Raiders

Janikowski tied the NFL record with a 63-yard field goal to end the first half in a 23-20 Week 1 win over the Broncos. Then in Week 5, Janikowski tied another NFL record with three field goals of at least 50 yards in a 25-20 win over the Texans.

Matt Prater, Denver Broncos

In the Broncos comeback win over the Dolphins in Week 7, Prater kicked the winning field goal, a 52-yarder midway through overtime.

Josh Scobee, Jacksonville Jaguars

Scobee matched Janikowski by making three field goals of 50 or more yards in a Monday Night Football win over the Ravens in Week 7. He made a 51-yard kick late in the fourth quarter to help clinch the win.