Prater with the Broncos in 2012
|No. 5 - Detroit Lions|
|Born:||August 10, 1984|
Mayfield Heights, Ohio
|Height:||5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)|
|Weight:||201 lb (91 kg)|
|High school:||Estero (FL)|
|* Offseason and/or practice squad member only|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Career NFL statistics as of 2019|
Matthew Phillip Prater (born August 10, 1984) is an American football placekicker for the Detroit Lions of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football for the University of Central Florida, and was originally signed by the Lions as an undrafted free agent in 2006. Prater holds the NFL record for kicking the longest field goal (64 yards), which he set on December 8, 2013, as a member of the Denver Broncos in a game against the Tennessee Titans in the first half as time expired. He also holds the Detroit Lions franchise record for longest field goal (61 yards), which he set on August 23, 2019. He was cut by the Denver Broncos after completing a suspension for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy. With the Lions in the 2016 and 2017 seasons, Prater set the NFL records for consecutive field goal conversions of 50+ yards (14 field goals) and 55+ yards (seven field goals).
Prater attended Estero High School in Estero, Florida. During his high school football career with the Wildcats, he converted 56 of 58 extra point attempts and 14 field goals, including one of 49 yards. Prater converted 84% of his kickoffs in the end zone for touchbacks. He was named second-team All-State, first-team all-conference and All-Southwest Florida. He was also selected to the second-team "Dream Team." Prater graduated from Estero High School in 2002. Prater transferred to Estero High School his sophomore year from Cypress Lake High School.
Prater attended and played college football for UCF from 2002-2005.
Prater showed signs of his leg strength with his first kick of his collegiate career, making a 53-yard attempt against Penn State. Overall, in his first season kicking for the Golden Knights, he finished with 44-of-47 extra points converted and 14-of-21 field goals converted.
Prater showed significant improvement as a sophomore year in 2003, leading the nation in punting and setting school and MAC records with 47.9 yards per punt. He is known as the perfectionist of the Rugby punt, which is now well known through the NCAA and is used by several teams. As a kicker, he converted 10-of-13 field goal attempts and was a perfect 4-for-4 on attempts of 40 yards or longer. Prater had a career day against Virginia Tech on August 31. He punted six times and had a 55.7-yard average, including punts of 71 and 67 yards. He also went 4-for-4 on extra points and had three touchbacks on kickoffs. Overall, he finished the 2003 season with 23-of-24 extra points converted and 10-of-13 field goals converted. In addition, he had 58 punts for 2,781 net yards for a 47.9 average.
In 2004, Prater continued to provide kicking duties for the Golden Knights. Aaron Horne took over most of the punting duties. appeared in nine games before missing the rest of the season with a leg injury. At one point during the season, he made 11 consecutive field goals - the second-longest streak in school history. The streak was snapped against Buffalo on October 4. Overall, he finished the 2004 season with 12-of-14 extra points converted and 9-of-14 field goals converted.
As a senior in 2005, Prater made 17-of-26 field goal attempts on the year, including a season-long 49-yard conversion. He also went 29-for-32 on point-after attempts. He punted four times for 160 yards during the season. In his final collegiate game, Prater set up a textbook onside kick, which allowed UCF to tie the game. However, in the first overtime, he missed an extra point, which dubbed him as the player that cost UCF the game and gave Nevada a 49-48 victory in the 2005 Hawaii Bowl.
In 46 games spanning four years with UCF, Prater converted 50 of 74 field goal attempts, with a long of 53 yards. His 50 field goals ties him for the school record, while his 258 points ranks him fourth all-time in school history.
Prater was signed by the Detroit Lions as an undrafted free agent on May 4, 2006. He made field goals of 22, 44, and 48 yards in a preseason game against the Cleveland Browns, but had little chance of beating out veteran incumbent Jason Hanson and was subsequently released August 27. He spent the rest of the season as a free agent, but did have workouts with the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings.
Shortly thereafter, Prater signed a contract with the Atlanta Falcons and beat out Billy Cundiff for the job. Including the Falcons' preseason finale, Prater missed at least one field goal in three games played with the Falcons. Prater missed two field goals against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 2 and was cut on September 18. The Falcons signed Morten Andersen as his replacement.
The Denver Broncos signed Prater off the Dolphins' practice squad on December 19, 2007.
Prater became the starting kicker for the Denver Broncos, replacing Jason Elam who signed with the Atlanta Falcons. The Broncos waived Garrett Hartley on July 21, 2008, leaving Prater as the only kicker on the Denver roster going into their first preseason game against the Houston Texans. On September 28, 2008, Prater made a 56-yard field goal late in the first half of the Broncos' loss at the Kansas City Chiefs, which was the third longest field goal in team history and the longest away from Denver. He made two field goals of more than 50 yards during the game.
On October 5, 2008, Prater converted three out of three field goals, including a 55-yarder, as part of a 16-13 Broncos home win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He also recorded four touchbacks out of five kickoffs. His performance during the game led to him being named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week for Week 5 of the 2008 NFL season. Prater won the award for the first time in his career.
Despite completing five of six field goals from beyond 50 yards on the season, he was only 25-of-34 overall (73.5%), making him one of the most inaccurate kickers in the league for the season.
Prater improved in the 2009 season converting all 32 extra point attempts and 30-of-35 field goal attempts. In Week 12, he converted two extra points and all four field goal attempts against the New York Giants in the 26-6 victory. His performance earned him his second AFC Special Teams Player of the Week nomination.
On March 9, 2010, the Denver Broncos re-signed Prater to a new contract. On December 23, 2010, Prater was put on injury reserve by the Broncos after suffering a right groin injury. Overall, he finished the 2010 season having converted 28-of-29 extra point attempts and 16-of-18 field goal attempts.
On July 29, 2011, Prater re-signed with the Denver Broncos. At 3:00 am August 2, Prater was arrested and charged with DUI at a hotel while in the company of a female employee of "Shotgun Willie's," a local Glendale "strip club."  On December 11, 2011, in a game against the Chicago Bears, Prater kicked a 59-yard field goal with three seconds remaining to tie the game. He then followed up by kicking a 51-yard field goal to win the game in overtime, 13-10. The performance earned his third career Special Teams Player of the Week nomination. Overall, he finished the 2011 season converting all 30 extra point attempts to go along with 19-of-25 field goal attempts.
On July 2, 2012, Prater re-signed with the Broncos on a four-year contract after the Broncos placed a franchise tag on him. In Week 4, against the Oakland Raiders, he converted four extra point attempts and three field goal attempts to earn AFC Special Teams Player of the Week. On the 2012 season, he converted all 55 extra point attempts to go along with 26-of-32 field goal attempts.
On October 6, 2013, when the Broncos faced the Dallas Cowboys, with a 48-48 score with 2 seconds left in regulation, Prater kicked the game-winning 28 yard field goal, to allow a Broncos 51-48 victory, as Denver went 5-0 for the first time since 2009. On December 8, Prater set a new NFL record by successfully kicking a 64-yard field goal against the Tennessee Titans as time expired in the first half. Prater also set a new NFL record for extra points in a single season, with 75. He earned AFC Special Teams Player of the Week honors for the performance. In the AFC Championship against the New England Patriots, he converted all four field goal attempts in the 26-16 victory. He appeared in his first Super Bowl in the following game, a 43-8 loss to the Seattle Seahawks.
Prater began the season with a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy. On October 3, 2014, Prater was released by the Broncos after they decided to stick with his replacement Brandon McManus.
On October 7, 2014, the Detroit Lions signed him to a one-year deal. Prater was Detroit's third kicker in only a little over a month after Nate Freese and Alex Henery had struggles in the kicking game. In Prater's debut as a Lion, he only made one of three attempts on a rather windy day at TCF Bank Stadium, but the Lions still got the win over the Minnesota Vikings. Two weeks later, Prater missed a game-winning 43 yard field goal against the Atlanta Falcons in London, but due to a delay of game penalty on Detroit, was allowed to re-kick from 48 yards out from which he converted, winning the game for the Lions. He finished the year converting 21 field goals on 26 attempts.
On March 6, 2015, the Lions re-signed Prater to a three-year, $9 million contract extension. In Week 6 against the Chicago Bears, Prater kicked a 37-yard field goal in overtime to win the game, 37-34. In a game against the Chicago Bears on January 3, 2016, Prater made a 59-yard field goal, which set a Detroit Lions franchise record for the longest field goal. Overall, on the 2015 season, he finished with converting 36-of-39 extra point attempts and 22-of-24 field goal attempts.
Prater was named NFC Special Teams Player of the Week for Week 9 when he converted three field goal attempts, including a 58-yard attempt with 0:02 left to send the game into overtime, where the Lions would beat the Minnesota Vikings. Prater was also named NFC Special Teams Player of the Week for Week 12 when he converted the game tying and game winning attempts to beat the Minnesota Vikings in the final two minutes. To cap off his performances, Prater won NFC Special Teams Player of the Month going 8-for-8 on field goals with two over 50 yards. He once again earned Special Teams Player of the Week for Week 13 when he made five field goals, including a 52-yarder, in a 28-13 win over the Saints. Prater was named to his second Pro Bowl as an alternate for Atlanta Falcons kicker Matt Bryant after the 2016 season. He finished the 2016 season converting 31-of-33 extra point attempts to go along with 31-of-36 field goal attempts.
In Week 1, Prater had to take over punting duties after Kasey Redfern left with an injury early in the game. He kicked a 58-yard field goal, went 2-for-2 on extra points and punted four times with an average of 35 yards in a 35-23 win over the Arizona Cardinals, earning him NFC Special Teams Player of the Week. Prater was named NFC Special Teams Player of the Month for September after making all six of his field goal attempts, including four conversions from 55 yards and longer. This gave Prater an NFL record seven straight field goals of 55 yards or longer without a miss, going back to 2016. Prater has also converted 14 consecutive 50+ yard field goals going back to last season, which is also an NFL record. Both streaks ended when Prater missed on a 59-yard attempt the following week against the Minnesota Vikings. On October 25, 2017, Prater signed a three-year contract extension with the Lions. Overall, he finished the 2017 season converting 40-of-41 extra point attempts to go along with 30-of-35 field goal attempts.
In Week 17 against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field, Prater threw a 14-yard touchdown to Levine Toilolo on a fake field goal attempt. He also added a field goal and four extra points in a 31-0 win over the Packers, earning him NFC Special Teams Player of the Week. He finished the 2018 season converting all 30 extra point attempts to go along with 28-of-32 field goal attempts.