The most nerve-wracking experience for any football fan to endure is watching their favorite team line up the special teams unit to kick or defend a potential game winning field goal.
The result that follows could potentially mean losing or winning a game, season, or even a chance at the Super Bowl title or a bowl championship.
It is remarkable how many times football games have come down to the act of kicking a ball between two posts.
For the team that’s losing, being given the chance to drive the football down the field to win the game will drive any fan crazy.
The best known National Football League kicker in these situations has to be South Dakota native and future Hall-of-Famer Adam Vinatari. In the span of his career, Vinatari has accumulated 26-game winning field goals including two in Super Bowls XXXVI and XXXVIII.
On the flip side, there is currently no statistic that shows how many potential game- winning field goals were missed and cost the team a win. When something like this happens, the generic reaction from the fan base is: You have one job, and you can’t even do that!
However, most coaches will end up placing the blame on the rest of the team for even being in a situation that requires the kicker to win the game for them.
There have been many games this NFL season alone that have been decided by a field goal, and many more in the history of the game.
The greatest game-winning field goal in NFL history was achieved Nov. 8, 1970, by Tom Dempsey of the New Orleans Saints. Dempsey, who was born with a deformity in his kicking foot, launched a 63 yard field goal against the Detroit Lions as time expired. It is the longest game winning field on record; however, it has been tied three times.
In 1903 when the field goal was first introduced it was scored as five points, was lowered to four points in 1904 and finally to the standard three points in 1909.
The field goal has dramatically changed the game of football, in more recent years, has been used more and more frequently.
Before Dempsey’s kick the longest field goal recorded was a 56 yard field goal set in 1956 by Bert Rechichar of the Baltimore Colts.
Since this wallop of a field goal, kickers have become a more valuable asset to teams, and are investing more in finding the best. Even last NFL season, a record 90 field goals of 50 or more yards were made.