A field goal in football has decided the outcome of many a football game. Many ponder about how 300-pounders toil on the line of scrimmage for hours, and yet it’s the 170-pound field goal kicker who decides the game with a kick that lasts a mere 5 seconds. Undoubtedly, it’s an interesting aspect of the game of football.
What is a field goal in football?
The definition of a field goal in football is when a designated player, known as the field goal kicker, placekicks or dropkicks the ball between the goalpost two uprights. Field goals are worth three points and can be conducted from any spot on the field behind the line of scrimmage.
- Field goals occur when the team with the ball places kicks the ball through the goalposts’ uprights.
- Once the ball is kicked, the ball cannot touch the ground or be touched by any offensive players. However, the ball can be tipped by a defensive player and still count.
- Missed field goals can be returned for touchdowns when caught in the air by the defending team.
- It is very common for field goal kickers to have backgrounds in sports like soccer and rugby.
Who takes field goals?
Field goals are typically attempted by designated players called field goal kickers. Most professional and college teams have field goal kickers whose only obligations on the team involve the special teams (field goals, kickoffs, and punting).
While some high school teams have field goal kickers that specifically work with just the special teams unit, many high school teams’ kickers also play other positions. Many high school teams kick field goals at a very low percentage, so they don’t use them as often as in the NFL.
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How to take a field goal
The coordination of field goals is more difficult than it sounds. While field goals can occur on either of the four downs, they usually occur on the fourth down unless the clock is about to expire to end the half.
- Adjust personnel- Put the field goal unit on,
- Snap the ball- Once everyone is set, the field goal kicker and the holder will communicate with the long snapper to snap the ball.
- Set the ball- Once the long snapper snaps the ball, the holder will receive the ball and hold it for the field goal kicker to kick. The holder will hold the ball along the ground with the laces facing out.
- Attempt the field goal- The kicker approaches the ball from an angle and attempts to kick the ball through the uprights.
Once a field goal is attempted, the drive is over. If the field goal is made, the team that made it will kick off to the other team. If the field goal is missed, the team that missed it turns the ball over to the other team at the spot where the field goal was kicked at.
Are dropkicks still legal?
Dropkicks are still legal but extremely rare. A dropkick is when a player drops the ball and kicks it as it hits the ground. Dropkicks are rare nowadays because of the evolution of the ball. When dropkicks were used regularly, the ball was more rounded, but nowadays, it is unpredictable because of its odd shape.
Doug Flutie’s 2006 dropkick was the first successful dropkick since 1941. Interestingly, Flutie’s final play of his career with the New England Patriots, and he dropkicked it for an extra point.
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The Longest Field Goal in the NFL
The record for the longest field goal in the NFL is held by Denver Broncos kicker Matt Prater who connected on a 64-yard field goal. It occurred on December 8, 2013.
Here are the top five longest field goals made:
- Matt Prater – 64 yards in 2013
- Tom Dempsey – 63 yards in 1970
- Jason Elam – 63 yards in 1998
- Sebastian Janikowski – 63 yards in 2011
- David Akers – 63 yards in 2012
When did goalposts move to the back of the end zone?
In 1974, goalposts were moved to the back of the end zone to encourage more touchdowns and fewer field goals. Plus, it was safer for players. In 1973, field goals accounted for 23% of the scoring. In 1974, only 15% of the scoring was from field goals.
Is the extra point called a field goal?
An extra point is different from a field goal because an extra point is taken directly after a touchdown, and a field goal is taken and worth one point. A field goal is worth three points and is taken to conclude a dive and not end in a touchdown.
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