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STS*: Nick Folk on 64 (Yards) Being the New 63

Posted Dec 14, 2013

*Special Teams Saturday

Ask any NFL placekicker what number stands out about his profession and one answer invariably will be 63. As in the yardage for the longest field goals ever.

"I bet you put most kickers in this league out there," Nick Folk mused, "and on any given day they can make a 63-yarder, everything being equal."

In fact, only four kickers had ever kicked a three-pointer that far in the regular season and postseason — Tom Dempsey in 1970, Jason Elam in '98, Sebastian Janikowski in 2011 and David Akers in '12.

And all those names have gotten bumped to second billing in the record book after Matt Prater bombed his 64-yarder for the Broncos at the end of the first half against the Titans in Denver last week.

Folk is one of those kickers who could have hit from 64 and may still better that new mark before it's all said and done. He drilled a 75-yarder in practice back in his college days in Tucson, AZ, and he dropped a 65-yarder over the bar as recently as this past summer at the end of a Jets training camp walkthrough in Cortland, NY.

But Nick has absolutely no hard feelings that Prater beat him and his fellow lodge members to the new magic number.

"Good for him, you know?" he said. "He hit it well. I mean, it was a big kick. Yeah, it was at Denver, but what was it, 20°? [Actually 18°, with an 11° wind chill]. Just imagine what that would've been good from in September. I'm happy for him. He did a great job."

Folk also chatted about those notoriously kicker-friendly thin-air conditions in Denver. Three of the five longest kicks in pro history have now been struck in the Mile High City, and Folk's career long, also the Jets franchise long, of 56 yards also was launched there in 2010.

"You put it in perspective — where I kicked the ball from that day was where they snapped the ball from Sunday," he said. "Everyone's going to say his kick was in Denver. So what? You make the kick, it's a long way. If you make it at 65 with a 40-mile-an-hour wind at your back, oh, well, who cares? You made it. It's not like track where it can be wind-aided. If it goes in, it goes in."

But Nick Folk captured the situation for all these kicks these days in two words: Perfect Storm.

"Most of those kicks happen at the end of a half or the end of a game," he said. "And then you're fighting gravity for 64-plus yards. Think about that. Matt's ball probably went 68 yards, I'm guessing, about 4 yards more to clear the uprights. You're fighting gravity for a long way."

And sometimes those situations just aren't perfect. For instance, Folk said when he hit his 51-yarder against the Raiders a few hours before Prater's monster kick, he made the kick by only 3 or 4 yards.

"I might've had 55 in me. That's kind of what I had in pregame. You don't want to try [a 64-yarder] then. Throw a Hail Mary if you're going to try something. You've got to be smart with it. Some days you don't have that kick ... and some days you do."

So what about Carolina on Sunday? Folk won't be a mile up but he should have a decent grass footing, 55° temps and not much wind. Could he match Prater with a game-winning 64-yarder if needed?

"Not bad," he said of the stadium. "It just depends on the day. I don't look at the weather too far in advance. Maybe Saturday I'll look at it and kind of get a gauge. Then I'll wake up Sunday and play what I feel."

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