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No. 5 Detroit Lions
|Date of birth:August 10, 1984|
|Place of birth: Mayfield Heights, Ohio|
|High school: Estero (FL)|
|Undrafted in 2006|
|Debuted in 2007 for the Atlanta Falcons|
|Roster status: Active|
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics as of 2014
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, in a game against the Tennessee Titans. He was cut by the Denver Broncos after completing a suspension for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy.
High school career
Prater attended Estero High School in Estero, Florida. During his tenure, he converted 56 of 58 extra point attempts and also booted 14 field goals, including one of 49 yards. Prater put 84 percent 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 showed signs of his leg strength with his first kick of his collegiate career, making a 53-yarder against Penn State.
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.
In 2004, Prater 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.
As a senior in 2005, Aaron Horne took over punting duties for the University of Central Florida while Prater concentrated almost solely on kicking. He 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 text book 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 Hawaii Bowl 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.
Prater was signed to a future contract by the Miami Dolphins on January 11, 2007. He was released by the team on August 27, as fellow placekicker Jay Feely won the job. 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 two and was cut on September 18. The Falcons signed Morten Andersen as his replacement.
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 25/34 overall (73.5%), making him one of the most inaccurate kickers in the league for the season.
On October 24, 2010, Prater kicked a 40 yard field goal only 3 hours after stubbing his pinky toe in the locker room.
On December 23, 2010, Prater was put on injury reserve by the Broncos.
On July 29, 2011, Prater re-signed with the Denver Broncos.
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.
On July 2, 2012, Prater re-signed with the Broncos on a four-year contract after the Broncos placed a franchise tag on him. 
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, 2013, Prater set a new NFL record as he kicked a NFL record 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.
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 1 year deal. Prater was Detroit's 3rd kicker in only a little over a month after Nate Freese and Alex Henery had well-documented struggles in the kicking game. In Prater's debut as a Lion, he only made 1 of 3 kicks 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.
Awards and honors
- AFC Special Teams Player of the Week - Week 5 (2008)
- AFC Special Teams Player of the Week - Week 14 (2011)
- AFC Special Teams Player of the Month - December (2011)
- AFC Special Teams Player of the Week - Week 4 (2012)
- The early place-kicking race has clear leader: Prater
- Associated Press (September 28, 2008). "Johnson rushes for 198 yards, two TDs as Chiefs' 12-game losing streak ends". ESPN. ESPN Internet Ventures. Retrieved October 3, 2014.
- Associated Press (October 5, 2008). "Denver knocks Griese out of the game, but doesn't go any easier on Garcia". ESPN. ESPN Internet Ventures. Retrieved October 3, 2014.
- Legwold, Jeff (March 9, 2010). "Broncos re-sign kicker Prater". Denver Post.
- Jones, Lindsay. "K Matt Prater placed on injured reserve". The Denver Post: First and Orange (MediaNews Group). Retrieved 9 December 2013.
- Brinson, Will (December 29, 2013). "Peyton Manning sets NFL record for passing yards in a season". CBS Sports. Retrieved December 29, 2013.
- Klis, Mike (October 3, 2014). "Matt Prater released by Broncos; Brandon McManus wins kicking job". The Denver Post. Retrieved October 3, 2014.
|Current starting placekickers in the National Football League (as of Week 17 of the 2014 NFL season)|
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