Prater’s record kick ‘cool,’ but no dig at ex-coaches

Josh Katzenstein
The Detroit News
Lions kicker Matt Prater stretches out, heading toward the ball, on his 59-yard field goal that sails through for three points to end the first half.

At least one person on the Bears sideline expected Lions kicker Matt Prater to make his 59-yard field-goal attempt at the end of the first half Sunday.

Prater spent three-plus years in Denver with current Bears special teams coach Jeff Rodgers, and after Prater missed a 54-yarder earlier in the second quarter, Rodgers expected him to make up for it.

“He told me (after the game) he knew I was going to make that one when I went out there after missing one,” Prater said. “He knew I was probably real upset, which I was, from missing the other one.”

Sunday’s game provided Prater an opportunity to impress his former coaches, both Rodgers and Bears head coach John Fox. Both coaches were in Denver from 2011-14, and Prater already was in place as the Broncos’ kicker.

Then, during the 2014 season, the Broncos cut Prater at the end of his four-game suspension to open the year, which led to him joining the Lions in Week 6.

Although Prater said it was “cool” to make the long field goal, which set a new Lions record, against his former coaches, he said he approached the win over the Bears as “just another game.”

“It’s not personal,” he said. “I like Coach Fox and the special teams coach and everybody there.”

Prater’s field goal broke Jason Hanson’s franchise record of 56 yards, which Hanson hit in 1995 and 2008. Prater also made the longest field goal in NFL history, a 64-yarder, when he was with the Broncos in 2013.

In his second season with the Lions, Prater made 22 of 24 field goals. He was 36 of 39 on 33-yard extra points, including one miss that was blocked, but Prater credited long snapper Don Muhlbach and punter Sam Martin, the holder, for helping him have a successful year.

“It was a good way to end the season,” he said. “I wish I had a couple kicks back, obviously, during the year, but overall I feel like it was a good season.”