Jan 2014
Evan Holland

Super Bowl Week: Sizing up the Kickers

If I only had one guy to kick my game winning field goal this Sunday, who would it be: Prater or Hauschka?

There’s an expression in sports that a player will often times put a team on his back and carry them to victory.  That’s nice and all, but the reality is this weekend’s Super Bowl could be won on the leg of one of the kickers.

The kicker is often an afterthought on the football team.  He only plays every once in a while and when he’s not playing, he is standing off to the side fetching footballs out of a practice net.  Needless to say he looks ridiculous.  But with the game on the line, you hope as a coach, a player, and a fan that he has practiced enough to split the uprights to win a championship.

With so much potentially resting on the leg of two men, I figured we should at least learn their names ahead of kickoff, so that we can eulogize them in victory or curse them in defeat.

The Broncos’ kicker is Matt Prater and the dude is sick.  In both the metaphorical and literal sense of the word.  Prater led the NFL in touchbacks on kickoffs during the regular season, but more importantly he was 25 of 26 on field goal attempts in the regular season, including 6 of 7 from 50 or more yards, including an NFL-record 64-yarder on Dec. 8 against the Tennessee Titans.  Prater is 5 of 6 in the postseason, but he was suffering from a some sort of virus last week and didn’t get to practice.

Seahawks’ kicker Steven Hauschka has gone 39-of-41 for the Seahawks this year including the postseason, but actually told his head coach during the NFC Championship it was a bad idea to have him kick a 53 yard field goal.  Basically, by Hauschka not kicking on that play, he helped his team reach the Super Bowl.  The field goal if  good would have made the score 17-16 with the Seahawks still trailing, but by forgoing the try, the Seahawks were able to score a touchdown and lead the 49ers 20-17.

If your guy can make it consistently from beyond 50 yards, that’s huge.

Advantage: Prater

Both the Broncos and the Seahawks made a visit to MetLife Stadium earlier this season, home of Super Bowl XLVIII as well as the Giants and Jets.  Did one guy fare better than the other?

In week 2, the Broncos defeated the Giants and Prater went 2/2 hitting from 42 yards and 47 yards respectively.

In week 15, the Seahawks also visited and defeated the Giants.  Hauschka went 3/3 on the day with a long of 49 yards.

Advantage: Hauschka

Next, I turned to Twitter.  Maybe they’ve both engaged in some trash talk or tweet Juicy J rap lyrics?  Nope.  Prater isn’t on Twitter and Hauschka has only four tweets, which is offensive.

Advantage: Neither.  We are going for two instead of kicking the PAT.

Here’s an interesting story.  Apparently, Prater was the starting kicker for the Broncos in 2010, but injured his groin, so the Broncos signed Hauschka who went six-of-seven in the last four games of the 2010 season.

Prater and Hauschka then competed for the Broncos starting job during the 2011 training camp and during the third preseason game, Hauschka kicked the game winning 51 yard field goal beating none other than the Seahawks only to be later cut by the Broncos on Sept. 3.

He didn’t have to wait long to be resigned by another team.  On Sept. 4 as luck would have it, Hauschka was signed by none other than the Seahawks.  America loves second chances.

Advantage: Hauschka

And with that the advantage goes to Hauschka and the Seahawks.  Enjoy Super Bowl XLVIII everyone.