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Broncos' Elam ties NFL mark with 63-yard field goal
Posted: Sunday October 25, 1998 09:59 PM
DENVER (AP) -- Jason Elam thought the kick would be just another long field-goal attempt. Instead, it made history.
Elam kicked a 63-yarder on Sunday in the thin air of Mile High Stadium, tying Tom Dempsey's 28-year-old NFL record. Elam ran onto the field at the end of the half ready to try a 58-yarder, but a penalty pushed the ball back 5 yards.
"I swung about as hard as I can swing at it," he said. "I hit it really clean, and it jumped off my foot quickly. I knew it had a shot, but I wasn't that sure.
"Those goal posts look pretty skinny from back there. I tried not to look at them much; it can be intimidating. ... It was a very special moment for me, something I'll remember, I know, for the rest of my life."
Elam matched the record Dempsey set for the New Orleans Saints against Detroit on November 8, 1970. Dempsey was watching the game on television from the New Orleans area and said he cheered when the ball went through the goal posts.
"It was a great kick, a great effort. You have to admire it," he said. "As good as people are getting now, I knew it was just a matter of time. People are kicking them longer and longer."
Elam's field goal gave Denver a 27-10 lead over the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Broncos went on to win 37-24. Elam would not have had a chance to tie the record if not for confusion on the Broncos' sideline.
Denver faced a fourth-and-3 at the Jacksonville 40-yard line with no timeouts left and time expiring at the end of the half. But instead of kicking immediately, the Broncos stayed in the huddle and were called for a 5-yard delay-of-game penalty with four seconds left.
That meant Elam faced a 63-yard kick instead of a 58-yarder.
He told coach Mike Shanahan, "Coach, I can make it," and went running onto the field expecting to attempt the shorter kick.
"Then they backed us up," Elam said. "So, I looked over at Mike again and he just motioned for me to stay on the field."
His kick was down the middle, barely clearing the crossbar. A beaming Elam clutched the ball as he sprinted into the locker room.
He had kicked 56-yarders at three levels of competition -- with the Broncos, in college at Hawaii and in high school. He said Denver's thin air helped "a little bit, but you still have to hit it good."
"The biggest thing with a kick that long is just getting an opportunity. I'd say three-quarters of the guys in the league have the ability to hit that ball," Elam said.
Dempsey said long attempts are more rare nowadays because of the new rule that puts the ball at the spot of the kick instead of at the line of scrimmage after missed field goals.
"It still might be broken," Dempsey said. "It will have to be at the end of the half or the end of the game, though. That's the only time a coach will take a chance like that. It's too risky to do it any other time. ... Mine was at the end of the game."
Dempsey said the record is a great memory.
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