In yesterday’s big win over the Atlanta Falcons, the performances of Kyler Murray, Trey McBride, and BJ Ojulari took centerstage. All three players are young, and they could also become pivotal pieces to the Cardinals franchise for the next 10 years if all goes according to plan.
One player who likely won’t last for that long, however, is 39-year-old Matt Prater, but it doesn’t mean he may not be there for a significant portion. Yesterday, Prater played a bigger role in the Cardinals 25-23 win than most will give him credit for, as he made three big kicks before he converted the 23-yard game-winner.
With 4:48 to go in the first quarter, Prater opened the scoring by converting a 51-yard field goal after those pesky penalties stalled the Cardinals. Just nine minutes later, Prater was called upon again, this time hitting a 46-yarder. And early in the third, Prater booted a 56-yard field goal that he could have hit from at least 60-plus yards.
Arizona Cardinals kicker STILL has the leg at 39 years old
You see more kickers play football into their forties than non-specialists, but even then, it’s a smaller number as leg strength and accuracy decline over time. However, Prater could find himself in the same company as guys like Adam Vinatieri, who was still an effective kicker at age 46.
The Detroit Lions were lovable losers for most of Jason Hanson’s career, but he was the one mainstay, and he retired following the 2012 season at age 42, but not before he hit 32 out of 36 field goals in his final season. Ditto for John Kasey, who finished his career with the New Orleans Saints at 42, and converted a respectable 82.6 percent of his kicks in 2011.
And finally, another kicker who besides Vinatieri played beyond age 45 was John Carney, whose last full season came in 2008 when he was 44. That year, Carney hit 35 out of 38 attempts, good for a 92.1 conversion percentage, which was a career-high when making at least 18 kicks.
While there are no guarantees surrounding Prater, history is on his side given his overall efficacy on remaining a high-profile kicker, even as he will turn 40 next year. For context, Prater has made 18 out of 20 field goal attempts this year, good for a 90.0 percent conversion rate, with a long of 62 yards.
(Statistics provided by Pro-Football-Reference)