Despite the loss on Sunday, one of the Kansas City Chiefs' key weapons took off the boot and kicked the longest field goal in franchise history as kicker Harrison Butker made a triumphant return to action. The kick, which marked the longest successful field goal by any player this season, signaled that the Chiefs' Pro Bowl kicker was back and perhaps better than ever.
"He's an amazing kicker," Head Coach Andy Reid said. "It was good to have him back out there. Harrison is one of the best in the National Football League."
Butker, who had been previously sidelined since injuring his left ankle in Week 1, explained that his lengthy absence was a matter of feeling fully healthy for an entire practice before competing in a game.
"I'd say the swelling was pretty low going into the Tampa Bay [game]. The swelling was down around that time, but it was about feeling good for an entire practice," Butker said. "I was able to ramp up my kicking after that, and when you haven't kicked for three or four weeks, you have to figure out your technique [again]."
Ironically enough, replacement kicker Matthew Wright nailed a 59-yard field goal just last week against Las Vegas while Butker was still on the sideline. At the time, Wright's kick marked the longest field goal in franchise history. The record stood for six days.
"After the [Raiders'] game, [punter] Tommy [Townsend] told Matt that he should keep the ball and get "Chiefs Record" painted on it," Butker said. "Matt [replied], 'I'm not going to do that because Butker is going to break it next week."
Remarkably, Butker managed to do just that in his first game in more than a month.
"The concern wasn't the distance," Butker said. "I felt like I was hitting the ball far enough. It was just about making sure that I could repeat that every single kick…The only concern, if there was one, was just the consistency of being able to do that for a whole game."
Butker's 62-yard field goal is significant for more than just the Chiefs' record book, too. It was just the 14th successful kick of 62 yards or more in league history, trailing the NFL record by only four yards. Butker now owns the longest kick in the NFL this season and will continue do so until further notice.
"Sixty is a special number, and the kicking game is evolving," Butker said. "You're seeing more and more kicks of 60-plus yards, which is a great thing. I think all of the offensive coaches are happy about it."
It was simply an awesome way to return to the field, and now to make matters even better, Butker added that he felt healthy following the game without any setbacks. He'll move forward having now joined some of the greatest kickers in NFL history in terms of career distance.
The 62-yard field goal certainly continued what has been a unique season as far as kicking goes, too. Safety Justin Reid connected on an extra point in Week 1, Wright briefly set the franchise record in Week 5 and now, after fighting his way back to the field, Butker didn't waste any time making history.