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Matt Prater: 'I Expect To Make' Pressure Kicks

Field goal misses hurt Cardinals in pair of close losses a season ago

K Matt Prater signs his two-year contract with the Cardinals.
K Matt Prater signs his two-year contract with the Cardinals.

The Cardinals' kicking woes last season were well-documented, as Zane Gonzalez missed crucial field goal attempts in close losses to the Patriots and Dolphins.

Matt Prater nailed a game-winner at State Farm Stadium in 2020, and believes he can keep it up as a member of the home team.

The 36-year-old kicker, who connected from 39 yards out to lift the Lions over the Cardinals at the Week 3 buzzer, said he's accustomed to the spotlight after all these years and welcomes pressure situations.

"There's no substitute for experience," Prater said. "I just treat those kicks like any other kick. Any time I'm out there for a field goal, I expect to make it. I don't treat a last-second kick any different than I do an extra point or a first-quarter field goal. … If I get put in situations like that, I expect to make them."

Prater had a down year in 2020, connecting on 21-of-28 field goal attempts, which wasn't much better than Gonzalez. However, the track record is strong, as Prater is a two-time Pro Bowler with a career field goal percentage of 83.2.

Prater holds the record for the longest made field goal in NFL history after booting a 64-yarder in the thin air of Denver back in 2013. His long snapper at the time was current Cardinal Aaron Brewer, and Prater remembers the attempt vividly.

"We ran out on the field, and we knew it was over 60," Prater said. "We weren't sure how far it was. Britton Colquitt was the holder and he got down and then looks at me. He said something close to, 'Holy cow, this is for the record.' I said, 'Why would you say that right before the kick?' We hit it, and luckily it went through. After that I kind of blacked out because I was celebrating. We were head-butting each other. It was definitely a good memory."

While the Cardinals' setup doesn't compare to the mile-high elevation of Denver, a domed stadium and natural grass is still favorable for kickers, and Prater comes aboard with big goals.

"I still feel pretty fresh," Prater said when asked about his age. "I'm confident we can go out and hit some long ones, for sure. Maybe get a shot at breaking the record here. That'd be awesome."

Prater worked with both Brewer and special teams coach Jeff Rodgers in Denver -- as well as assistant special teams coach Devin Fitzsimmons in Detroit -- and said the relationship with Rodgers is a big reason why he ended up with the Cardinals.

"It's one of those things where you don't realize how good you have it until it's gone," Prater said. "Not playing for Rodgers and now getting the opportunity to work and play for him again, I'm really excited."

His ties don't end there, as Prater's father works at a local Veterans Affairs office and his wife is a former Cardinals cheerleader.

"She was really excited, and my kids are so excited to come out here," Prater said. "Everything lined up perfectly for the entire family."

The Cardinals' fanbase is hoping for similar excitement when Prater lines up on Sunday, and he is looking forward to the opportunity to get the kicking game on track.

"The offense is so good that it's going to put up points," Prater said. "And I hope to help put up some more points this year."

Images of wide receiver A.J. Green signing his one-year deal with the Cardinals.