If you think your job is tough, try being an NFL kicker. Commonly viewed as a mere cog in the machine and the bane of the existence of fantasy football managers everywhere, you’ll rarely see a kicker in the headlines when they do a fantastic job.
However, if they happen to blow a game or miss a crucial kick, it’s a completely different story. Kickers are in one of those vocations where perfection is expected and taken for granted, while mistakes are simply not acceptable.
It’s a pressure-packed gig week in and week out of the NFL season. Naturally, it amplifies tenfold on the grandest stage of them all. While some kickers have wilted under the bright Super Bowl lights, others have managed to nail it.
Kickers have the power to change your betting results
If offense sells tickets and defense wins championships, then where exactly do special teams fit in? As the best minds in the game and savvy football handicappers are well aware, this under-the-radar unit can easily change the trajectory of games.
While some folks use the extra point and chip-shot field goal attempts as a chance to take a restroom or food and beverage break, they can often miss a lot by doing so. After all, every single point that goes on the board matters to a sports bettor.
That’s true not only for the final score but also for spread and totals bets. Kickers have the power to change the outcome of not only the contest on the field, but also the wagering results for scores of NFL bettors. When it comes to your Super Bowl bets, that kick could be the difference between a 3-digit or 4-digit bet paying off or not.
At the end of the day, just two kickers (excluding punters, obv.) will face that pressure under the lights of SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles on Feb. 13. Whether it’s Justin Tucker, Ryan Succop, Tyler Bass or Matt Prater, here’s the legacy they’ll be entering into and how the history of SB kickers might suggest how things will play out.
Super Bowl kicking props
For the average NFL game, you’ll see 50+ options for various Super Bowl prop bets. On Super Bowl Sunday, sportsbooks go all-in, with hundreds of options for bettors to consider.
For kickers, specifically, the most popular prop bets include:
First scoring play of the game – TD, FG, or Safety?
Over/Under on total number of field goals
Yardage bands for length of longest field goal – 40-49, etc.
Bet on total number of touchbacks, field goals, and extra points
Wager on if there will be a missed FG or PAT
As you get set to bet on Super Bowl kickers, it’s worth your while to shop around for the best available props and odds at multiple sportsbooks. DraftKings and FanDuel may have options that you like better, while Caesars or BetMGM could have the best odds on the prop that you want.
Active kickers and their Super Bowl performances
So which kicker will shine the brightest at the 2022 Super Bowl? We can’t say for certain until the matchup is finalized, but we can take a peek into the crystal ball to try to zero in on who might be there.
The latest Super Bowl futures odds will take shape as the Big Game approaches. Let’s take a speculative look at what the kickers from several of the top favorites would bring to the table; as the game approaches we’ll narrow the field and add more relevant info to suss your bets out.
Ryan Succop, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
At the 2021 Super Bowl, Succop went 4/4 on extra points and nailed his lone field goal try as the Buccaneers took down the Chiefs by a score of 31-9. Through the end of the 2020 regular season, he has hit 83 percent of field goal attempts and 96.3 percent of PATs.
Tyler Bass, Buffalo Bills
A sixth-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, Bass had a solid rookie season while going 28/34 on field goals and 12/15 on attempts from 40+ yards. In three postseason games, he was 7/9 on field goal tries and 5/6 on PATs.
Harrison Butker, Kansas City Chiefs
Butker has appeared in the last two Super Bowls as a member of the Chiefs. He converted four field goals and his lone extra point attempt in the first appearance, and accounted for all nine of Kansas City’s points in the second go-round.
Matt Gay, Los Angeles Rams
Gay started his career in Tampa Bay in 2019 and then joined the Rams midway through the 2020 season. He appeared in two postseason games for Los Angeles, and was perfect across the board with four made field goals and four PATs.
Mason Crosby, Green Bay Packers
The longtime Packers kicker picked up a ring when the team took down the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLV in 2011. He nailed his lone field goal attempt and was perfect on four PATs in the team’s 31-25 victory.
Justin Tucker, Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens kicker since 2012, Tucker is considered to be one of the best kickers in NFL history. At Super Bowl XLVII in 2013, he nailed two field goals and four PATs as Baltimore took down the 49ers by a score of 34-31.
Matt Prater, Arizona Cardinals
Prater has had an exceptional career while playing for several teams. He’s at 83.2 percent accuracy on field goals and 97.6 percent on PATs through the end of 2020. In the playoffs, he’s 15/17 on field goals and perfect on extra points.
Greg Zuerlein, Dallas Cowboys
The kicker nicknamed “The Leg” was a member of the Rams when they squared off with the Patriots in Super Bowl LIII in 2019. He went 1/2 on field goal attempts in the 13-3 defeat. For his career through 2020, he’s 82.2 percent on field goals and 97.1 percent on PATs.
Chase McLaughlin, Cleveland Browns
Since entering the league as an undrafted free agent in 2019, McLaughlin has bounced around a bit. He played college ball at Illinois, earning first-team All Big Ten honors in 2018. McLaughlin joined the Browns in the 2021 offseason after a stint with the Jets.
Tristan Vizcaino, Los Angeles Chargers
Vizcaino made his NFL debut in 2020 and appeared in two games, going 6/6 on field goals and 4/4 on PATs. He was an undrafted free agent out of Washington in 2018 and signed on with the Chargers in the 2021 offseason.
How many Super Bowls have been decided by 3 points or less?
Through 55 editions of the Big Game, 34 have been what can be considered decisive wins for the victors, as in margins of 10 points or more.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, just seven have been decided by a field goal or less. Another six just missed the cut with a 4-point margin of victory. The remaining eight were decided by 5-9 points.
Every point matters at the Super Bowl — especially if there’s a 4-figure totals or spread bet hanging in the balance. Here’s a look back at the seven games that came down to three points, starting with the most recent:
Super Bowl XLVII
February 3, 2013
Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, LA
Baltimore Ravens 34, San Francisco 49ers 31
Wait – two brothers coached against each other in the Super Bowl? Yep, that really happened. John Harbaugh and the Ravens battled Jim Harbaugh and the 49ers with the latter installed as 4-point favorites. San Francisco made it close in the end, but a late 38-yard field goal from Justin Tucker helped to seal the deal for Baltimore.
Super Bowl XLII
February 3, 2008
University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, AZ
New York Giants 17, New England Patriots 14
It was looking like the boys from New England would be fitted for some more rings as the undefeated Patriots hit the field as big 12-point favorites over the Giants. Outside of an early Lawrence Tynes field goal, TDs accounted for the scoring, including the game winner from Eli Manning to Plaxico Burress.
Super Bowl XXXIX
February 6, 2005
Alltel Stadium in Jacksonville, FL
New England Patriots 24, Philadelphia Eagles 21
What is it with the Patriots and Super Bowls that are decided by three points? This one didn’t come down to the wire, but Vinatieri provided some cushion with a 22-yard field goal midway through the fourth quarter. A late Donovan McNabb to Greg Lewis TD pulled the Eagles closer, but the three-point margin of victory stood.
Super Bowl XXXVIII
February 1, 2004
Reliant Stadium in Houston, TX
New England Patriots 32, Carolina Panthers 29
Two years later, the Patriots found themselves in another tight one at the Big Game, this time as 7-point favorites. After the Panthers knotted things up at 29 with a little over a minute left, Brady marched the team into field goal range. Adam Vinatieri did the rest with a 41-yard field goal with just seconds left to play.
Super Bowl XXXVI
February 3, 2002
Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, LA
New England Patriots 20, St. Louis Rams 17
The Rams were favored by 14 over a New England team that was led by first-year starter Tom Brady. After stunning with a halftime lead, the Patriots made things even more surprising in spite of a comeback by the potent St. Louis offense. Adam Vinatieri kick-started a dynasty with a 48-yard game winner as the clock ticked away.
Super Bowl XXV
January 27, 1991
Tampa Stadium in Tampa, FL
New York Giants 20, Buffalo Bills 19
The high-powered Bills were 7-point favorites, but the Giants employed an effective ball control strategy to keep things tight. In one of the most famous moments in NFL history, Buffalo’s Scott Norwood missed what would have been the game winner as his 47-yard attempt sailed wide right as time expired.
Super Bowl V
January 17, 1971
Orange Bowl in Miami, FL
Baltimore Colts 16, Dallas Cowboys 13
The Colts walked onto the field as 2.5-point favorites in what would turn out to be a physical affair with lots of turnovers. The Cowboys held a 13-6 lead through three quarters, but Baltimore came back with 10 points in the final frame, including a 32-yard game-winning field goal from Jim O’Brien.
That time when the Super Bowl ended on a field goal
Only one Super Bowl has ever gone to overtime. At Super Bowl LI in 2017, Brady led a comeback for the ages as he and the Patriots stunned the Atlanta Falcons by a score of 34-28 in extra time after being down 28-9 in the third quarter.
For thrilling Super Bowls, it’s tough to beat that one. However, there are several that deserve to be in the conversation, including those that ended on a field-goal attempt as the clock wound down. To date, it’s happened just four times.
Super Bowl V: Jim O’Brien hits a 32-yarder to give the Colts a 16-13 win over the Cowboys.
Super Bowl XXV: Scott Norwood sails a 47-yarder wide right as the Giants hang on for a 20-19 win over the Bills.
Super Bowl XXXVI: Adam Vinatieri hit a 48-yarder to give the Patriots a 20-17 upset win over the Rams.
Super Bowl XXXVIII: Vinatieri once again, this time for 41 yards to give the Patriots a 32-29 victory over the Panthers.
Many Super Bowls have been decided by big margins, but others have gone down to the wire without the kickers involved. Included on the list are the Rams needing a tackle at the one-yard line to prevent OT in a Super Bowl XXXIV win over the Titans, and a game-winning interception as the Patriots survived a Seahawks rally to win Super Bowl XLIX.
Who kicked the longest field goal in Super Bowl history?
This is a record that has stood for 28 years and counting. Throughout the annals of Super Bowl history, there have only been seven field goals of 50+ yards made. Interestingly, two of them happened recently. Here’s the full list.
54: Steve Christie, Buffalo Bills, Super Bowl XXVIII
53: Greg Zuerlien, Los Angeles Rams, Super Bowl LIII
52: Harrison Butker, Kansas City Chiefs, Super Bowl LV
51: Ryan Succop Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Super Bowl LV
51: Jason Elam, Denver Broncos, Super Bowl XXXII
50: John Kasay, Carolina Panthers, Super Bowl XXXVIII
50: Jeff Wilkins, St. Louis Rams, Super Bowl XXXVI
Christie’s record-setter came in a 30-13 defeat to the Dallas Cowboys, the last of four straight Super Bowl losses for the Bills. The streak began with Norwood’s infamous wide-right in a Super Bowl XXV loss to the New York Giants.
Which kickers have played in multiple Super Bowls?
There have been a number of kickers who have appeared in two Super Bowl games. Naturally, they’ve played for teams that made it in back-to-back years or had a pair of appearances in a tight timeframe. A special few have played in the big Game three times or more during their career.
Stephen Gostkoski: The Patriots kicker from 2006-19, Gostkowski appeared in six Super Bowls over that span with New England going 3-3.
Adam Vinatieri: He appeared in four Super Bowls with the Patriots, and followed that up with another trip with the Indianapolis Colts.
Fred Cox: The Minnesota Vikings of the 1970s made it to the Big Game four times. Cox was the kicker during the run as the team went 0-4.
Roy Gerela: The Pittsburgh Steelers stuffed the case with four Lombardi trophies in the 1970s. Gerela was the kicker for the first three wins.
Garo Yepremian: The Miami Dolphins made it to the Super Bowl three straight years from 1972-74. Yepremian handled kicking duties as the team went 2-1.
Other notable dynasty teams include the San Francisco 49ers of the 1980s and the Dallas Cowboys of the 1990s, but there were some changes at the kicker position during their stellar runs.
Kickers who had Super Bowls to forget
While Scott Norwood’s miss at the end of Super Bowl XXV is cemented as the top kicking gaffe on the grand stage, he’s not the only kicker who is haunted by Big Game moments that they wish they had back.
Here’s another trio of regrettable moments that left kickers wishing for a do-over.
Garo Yepremian, Miami Dolphins, Super Bowl VII
Luckily for Yepremian, the Dolphins went on to win the game by a score of 14-7 over Washington. Miami was leading 14-0 and looking to push the lead up by three when a Yepremian kick was blocked. He attempted to salvage the play with a woeful attempt at a forward pass which was promptly returned for a 49-yard TD by Washington.
Brad Karlis, Denver Broncos, Super Bowl XXI
Karlis wasn’t solely responsible for the Broncos being pounded by the New York Giants in a 39-20 loss, but his performance certainly didn’t help. He was perfect on two extra points, but just two of four on field goal tries. Karlis shanked a 23-yard attempt early in the second quarter, and missed another layup before halftime.
John Kasay, Carolina Panthers, Super Bowl XXXVIII
The Panthers knotted the score at 29 against the New England Patriots with a little over a minute left. On the ensuing kickoff, Kasay made a critical error as he booted the ball out of bounds. New England got the ball at their own 40-yard line as a result, and went on to march down the field for a game-winning field goal.
After you push aside any rooting or betting interests, it’s helpful to take a deep breath and remember that athletes are human. Anything can happen on the field of play at any time, including mistakes of the gut-wrenching variety.
Super Bowl kicking records
When you think of the all-time Super Bowl record book, chances are that kickers aren’t the first thought to come to mind. However, there are plenty of entries for those who excelled at the kicking game on the big stage.
Most games played: Stephen Gostkowski, New England Patriots, 6
Most Super Bowl wins: Adam Vinatieri, New England Patriots/Indianapolis Colts, 4
Most kickoffs for touchbacks in single game: 5 – Lin Elliott, Dallas Cowboys, Stephen Gostkowski, New England Patriots
Most field goal attempts, career: Adam Vinatieri, New England Patriots/Indianapolis Colts, 10
Most field goal attempts, single game: 5 – Jim Turner, New York Jets and Efren Herrera, Denver Broncos
Most field goals made, single game: 4 – Don Chandler, Green Bay Packers and Ray Wersching, San Francisco 49ers
Most field goals made, career: 7 – Adam Vinatieri, New England Patriots/Indianapolis Colts and Stephen Gostkowski, New England Patriots
Most 40-plus yard field goals in single game: Garrett Hartley, New Orleans Saints, 3
Longest field goal: Steve Christie, Buffalo Bills, 54 yards
Shortest field goal: 9 yards – Jim Turner, New York Jets and Mike Clark, Dallas Cowboys
Most career extra points: Adam Vinatieri, New England Patriots/Indianapolis Colts, 13
Most extra points in single game: 7 – Mike Cofer, San Francisco 49ers, Lin Elliott, Dallas Cowboys, and Doug Brien, San Francisco 49ers
The five best kickers in Super Bowl history
The top of the charts is pretty clear cut, but rounding out the rest of the list requires much more of a deep dive. We did just that. Here are our selections for the five best kickers in Super Bowl history.
A pair of Super Bowl-winning kicks for the Patriots seals the argument, but Vinatieri’s overall body of work in the Super Bowl serves as the exclamation point. He was seven of 10 on field goal tries over five games and perfect on 12 PAT tries. Vinatieri has four rings in total – three with the Patriots and one with the Colts.
No kicker has appeared in more Super Bowls than Gostkowski. The fact that he played for New England during the Brady era certainly helped, but his contributions were more than welcome. Gostkowski’s stat line through six Super Bowls reads as 7/9 on field goals and 12/14 on PATs.
The ‘85 Chicago Bears are one of the most legendary teams in league history. A ton of stars had a hand in the memorable season, as well as in a 46-10 beatdown of the Patriots in Super Bowl XX. In under-the-radar fashion, Butler did his job to perfection at the Big Game by going 3/3 on field goals and 5/5 on PATs.
For the first two Super Bowl wins for the 49ers in the ‘80s, Wersching was the manhandling kicking duties. He didn’t miss a kick in either game. Wersching had four field goals and two PATs in the first victory over the Cincinnati Bengals, and followed that up with a field goal and five extra points in a win over the Miami Dolphins.
The legendary Green Bay Packers capped off a decade of dominance in the 1960s with wins in the first two Super Bowls. Chandler handled kicking duties both times, going 5/5 on PATs in a win over the Kansas City Chiefs, and following that up by going 4/4 on field goals and 3/3 on PATs in the victory over the Oakland Raiders.
Final Thoughts for Betting on Super Bowl Kickers
Kickers can change the entire trajectory of a Super Bowl, and history bears that out. The Big Game has featured plenty of memorable moments throughout the years, as well as several that fans, bettors, and kickers would love to have back. Here’s to hoping that your rooting interests align whenever a kick sails through the uprights at the Super Bowl.