At the end of September, Baltimore Ravens placekicker Justin Tucker hit a 66-yard field goal to give Baltimore a 19-17 victory over the Detroit Lions — and himself a new record for the longest field goal in league history.
A few days later, Kansas City Chiefs special-teams coordinator Dave Toub said that his placekicker could be the guy to break the new record.
“If there’s a guy that can break the record, it’s Harrison,” insisted Toub on September 30. “Even [Baltimore special teams coach Chris Horton] told me that. I congratulated the coach — and he told me that very thing: that your guy can break it. In the right situation, I believe he can.”
Taking a turn with reporters on Friday, Butker himself expressed confidence he could do it.
“I think I’m definitely capable of doing that,” he said. “I hit it off the crossbar from 68 yesterday.”
But Butker also has a great deal of respect for the current record holder.
“I think Tucker’s an innovator; he’s done a lot of creative things in the kicking game,” noted Butker, who hasn’t yet missed a field goal or extra point in 2021. “I don’t know if everybody noticed, but for that kick, he kind of almost hit a four-step approach landing on his kicking leg — I think he talked about that a little bit — and I think that’s just credit for him for figuring out, ‘How do I get this ball through the uprights — at maybe a distance that I can’t with my normal field-goal approach?’ So I think he challenges all of us kickers to maybe extend our distance.”
Butker also pointed out that Tucker’s kick occurred indoors — an environment where he wasn’t getting any help from the weather.
“I think if I had wind at my back, I think could do my [usual] field-goal approach there,” he hypothesized. “I think you’ve just got to get that opportunity — and probably hit your A++ ball on that kick.”
Butker isn’t even bothered by the possibility that the Chiefs — like many other teams — might go for it on fourth down more often, which would give him fewer opportunities.
“I go into the game expecting maybe a 58-yard field goal,” he explained. “As the game goes on, maybe we’ve got a fourth-and-3 — [and] with our offense, I think we’ve got to go for it.
“So I’m in support of trying to get the first down and hopefully get a touchdown — but mentally and physically, I’m preparing for the long field goal — if it occurs.”
As far as Butker is concerned, getting a record like Tucker’s would be nice — but it’s a distraction from the business at hand.
“At the end of the day, we’re trying to win football games — and the best chance of winning the game is scoring touchdowns, not field goals.”