In the final seconds of a crucial late-December matchup against the New York Giants, Minnesota Vikings kicker Greg Joseph lined up for a potential game-winning 61-yard field goal attempt. With the game hanging in the balance, Joseph calmly drilled the kick straight through the uprights as time expired, sealing a 27-24 Vikings victory. Not only did the clutch kick secure a key win for the Vikings‘ playoff push, but it also smashed the franchise record for longest field goal.
Just one month prior, Jake Elliott of the Philadelphia Eagles had nailed a 61-yard field goal himself at the halftime buzzer. While Elliott‘s bomb was an incredible feat in its own right, Joseph‘s kick carries some added significance for several reasons. Let‘s break down the epic field goals and what they meant for Joseph, Elliott, and the record books.
Kicking Into the Record Books
On December 24th, 2022, Greg Joseph officially etched his name into Minnesota Vikings lore with the greatest field goal in franchise history.
And talk about dramatic timing – his 61-yard boomer came as the clock struck zero in the 4th quarter, the game deadlocked at 24-24 with the Vikings‘ playoff hopes hanging in the balance.
By converting from 61 yards out, Joseph broke the previous Vikings record of 59 yards, set by kicker Brett Maher in 2019. Maher‘s long kick was impressive, sure, but Joseph‘s game-winner was next-level clutch.
Picture this – the Vikings gain a few yards on two late plays to reach New York‘s 43-yard line. With 4 seconds left and Minnesota out of timeouts, head coach Kevin O‘Connell keeps the offense on the field on 4th down rather than attempt a final Hail Mary pass.
The ball is snapped and Joseph strikes it perfectly. The football takes off, rotating at high speed through the controlled climate of U.S. Bank Stadium. It stays straight on target for 61 seemingly endless yards before the pigskin finally splits the uprights, setting off euphoria for Joseph and the Vikings faithful.
Just like that, Joseph etches his name into the NFL history books with the new Vikings record while simultaneously becoming a Minnesota hero. His leg carved a win that kept his team squarely in the NFC playoff mix – talk about coming through in the clutch!
By the Numbers
Let‘s take a look at how Joseph‘s record-setting kick stacks up statistically:
Distance: 61 yards
Game Situation: Week 16 vs. Giants
Time Remaining: Expired as time ran out
Score at Time: Tied 24-24
Result: 27-24 Vikings victory
Previous Vikings Record: 59 yards (Brett Maher, 2019)
Longest NFL Field Goal: 66 yards (Matt Prater, 2013)
As the numbers show, Joseph‘s kick was especially clutch since it came as time fully expired in a tie game. The pressure was cranked up to the max, yet Joseph came through to put the Vikings over the top.
For even more context, NFL kickers combined for just a 5.9% make rate last season on attempts from 60+ yards. Yet Joseph confidently nailed it from 61 yards out with the stakes at their highest.
Physicists Marvel at Joseph‘s Leg
Kicking a football through NFL uprights from 60+ yards is insanely difficult for several physics-related reasons. Mastering distance and accuracy from that range requires an astonishing blend of leg strength, timing, and technique.
Simply swinging the leg to make contact with the ball requires immense muscular effort and coordination. Then keeping the ball on target for over 60 yards comes down to precision and ball flight.
The ball itself is vital – Joseph no doubt used a brand new ball with premium grip and spin capabilities. Physics experts will tell you that generating backspin is critical for distance as it combats the nose-down effect caused by gravity.
Of course weather factors in as well. Joseph benefited from kicking indoors, as U.S. Bank Stadium‘s temperature and wind conditions were tightly regulated on game day. This certainly assisted his chances compared to, say, attempting a 61-yarder at frigid Lambeau Field.
When all the factors aligned – his leg strength, indoor setting, backspin on the ball – Joseph was able to achieve a rare long-distance field goal that required both immense power and pinpoint accuracy.
Joseph Finds Redemption
While Joseph entered this season as an established NFL kicker, he‘s also had his share of ups and downs over the years. As recently as 2020, he struggled through a shaky season with the Tennessee Titans, converting only 83% of field goals before being waived.
After joining the Vikings in 2021, Joseph endured some bumps in the road while adjusting to kicking outdoors in Minnesota‘s variable weather and boisterous crowds.
But this season, he‘s clearly regained confidence in his process and skills. His game-deciding kick against the Giants was a crowning moment that harked back to his college days at Florida Atlantic when he routinely boomed 50-yarders with ease.
In a pressure-packed moment, with Minnesota‘s season potentially on the line, Joseph found redemption by relying on the talents that made him an NFL kicker in the first place. There‘s no doubt this breakthrough will only help him continue to thrive going forward.
Elliott Also Bombs Away
While Greg Joseph‘s kick captivated the NFL world, we can‘t forget that Jake Elliott also nailed a 61-yard field goal earlier this season.
Elliott‘s epic kick came on October 9th, 2022 with the Eagles leading the Arizona Cardinals 10-7 at halftime. Lining up for a standard last-second field goal on the final play before halftime, Elliott took the snap and absolutely crushed the ball.
It took off instantly, tracking straight between the posts for 61 yards out, igniting the Philadelphia crowd. Elliott‘s successful kick broke his own personal best – a franchise record 59-yarder.
Here‘s how Elliott‘s bomb shaped up statistically:
Distance: 61 yards
Game Situation: Week 5 vs. Cardinals, Half Expiring
Score at Time: Eagles led 10-7
Result: Cardinals won 20-17
While Elliott didn‘t see his team to victory like Joseph did, his kick still brought plenty of added momentum heading into halftime up 13-7. It also reinforced that Elliott possesses next-level leg strength capable of bombs from 60+ out.
Peers React with Awe
You can tell these long field goals really impress fellow athletes who understand just how challenging they are. NFL kickers, players, and coaches expressed sheer amazement at Joseph and Elliott booting clutch 61-yarders:
"Man, what a kick by Greg Joseph. Incredible. That thing was GOOD from 68 yards." – NFL analyst Brian Baldinger
"Greg Joseph is unbelievable. 61 yards to win the game as time expires? Give that man a game ball." – Vikings pass rusher Za‘Darius Smith
"Jake Elliott with a 61 YARD field goal before halftime. Insanity. How do you even do that?" – Eagles receiver A.J. Brown
Reactions like these highlight just how much admiration NFL peers have for these long-range field goal feats. Only the most elite legs in football can even dream about 61-yard kicks, so Joseph and Elliott are firmly establishing themselves as big-time kickers.
Greg Joseph‘s 61-yard game-winner for the Vikings and Jake Elliott‘s 61-yard bomb for the Eagles have carved out their own remarkable place in NFL history.
These type of once-in-a-career kicks have etched Joseph, Elliott, and the entire 60+ yard field goal club into league lore for their long-range prowess.
While neither kick ranks as the longest ever – Matt Prater‘s 64-yarder holds that title – Joseph and Elliott have still flexed ultra-rare leg talent. After booting clutch 61-yarders in tight game situations, they‘ve gained confidence and momentum that will only breed more success.
So if someone ever asks, "Did Greg Joseph‘s 61-yard field goal break the Vikings‘ record?", you can proudly respond – "Absolutely, while showing off an elite leg in the process!"