Lions' win brings relief for Matt Prater after rare off-day

Rod Beard
The Detroit News

Detroit — Matt Prater knew the answer almost faster than a Google search would.

When was the last time he missed two kicks in the same game?

“Jets, Week 1 last year,” Prater answered almost immediately. “I remember misses; I don’t remember makes.”

After a missed field goal and extra point, Lions kicker Matt Prater puts away a crucial extra point late in the fourth quarter.

It was a rare off-day for Prater in Sunday’s 13-10 win over the Los Angeles Chargers at Ford Field. After Kerryon Johnson scored the first touchdown in the opening quarter, Prater’s attempt for the extra point was wide right and the Lions trailed, 7-6.

Prater made all 30 of his extra points last season; Sunday’s miss was his first since Dec. 3, 2017, his only miss that season, when he went 40-of-41. It was just the ninth missed extra point in his 13-year career, keeping his conversion rate at 98 percent (422-of-431).

In the second quarter, Prater had a chance to give the Lions their first lead of the game but his 40-yard field-goal attempt missed, keeping the score at 7-6.

“I just had an off-day and I didn’t hit it as cleanly as I would have liked to. Obviously, if they don’t go between the posts, it’s not good,” he said. “They sent me out there to make the kicks, not miss them.

“I’m just glad the team pulled it off in the end and we got the win.”

As the game wore on, the Lions offense couldn’t get in the end zone and the miscues weighed on Prater as the final minutes approached.

Prater got another chance after the Lions’ go-ahead touchdown with 7:21 left — and he made the extra point. In the final two minutes, the Chargers got in field-goal range and threatened on their final possession but Darius Slay’s interception effectively ended it — and helped Prater breathe a little easier.

“We only get so many opportunities, so if you don’t come through with your opportunity and miss a kick, it haunts you the whole game, especially in a close game,” Prater said. “If they would have gotten a field goal at the end, I would have hoped for a redemption kick toward the end.”

No need.

The Lions’ kicking woes were overshadowed by their struggles on special teams, a sloppy display of penalties and miscues, including replacing Jamal Agnew after some poor decisions.

Coach Matt Patricia lamented the special-teams plays — which included three penalties on kicks — but pointed out that it’s still early in the season and some of the mistakes can be cleaned up.

“The penalties obviously, is the biggest situation there that we have to get cleaned up fast. We have to understand how they’re calling the games,” Patricia said. “The speed and space on special teams is something that, like I’ve said before, unfortunately, unless you get into game speed — special teams game speed is completely different than anything else we’ve seen during the week, and that’s the truth.

“You just can’t simulate it. Our guys have to learn to be smarter in those situations. You might miss your guy, you might miss a block, you might whatever the case may be, but we cannot create penalties on top of it.”