With the game tied at 20-20 in overtime and the Chargers having already possessed the ball, a 53-yard field goal would win the game. And he made the kick, only offensive lineman Nick Allegretti jumped the snap, moving Kansas City back five yards.
Then Butker made a 58-yarder, only the Chargers called a timeout. By the time the third 50-plus-yard kicking opportunity rolled around, Butker had been through enough.
“I think I just got a little bit more angry every kick,” he said after the game. “So the first one, I thought they called timeout, and then I realized it was a false start. Going into the second one, they called timeout again, so in my head, that’s two timeouts, and then I think I even looked at the Chargers’ sideline, cause I’m like, ‘Come on, man, I’m trying to finish this game and get back to Kansas City.’
“So that third one, I felt like was my best kick, and I mean, to have two practice kicks before that is only going to help you.”
Butker made three consecutive difficult kicks after the field-goal unit had an extra point blocked earlier in the game during the second quarter.
“I’m just really happy that we were able to stay through from the blocked extra point,” added Butker. “We have a great field goal unit — James Winchester and Tommy (Townsend) holding the ball. We were able to put it through. But that’s stuff that we do in practice and we were able to transfer it over to the game.”
Rather than being fazed by Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn calling a timeout in an attempt to ice Butker, it made him feel better about the opportunity, as it gave him two extra tries.
“I think every kicker’s different,” Butker explained. “I definitely felt more confident — the 53-yarder, I didn’t like the way it kind of curved left. I made an adjustment with Tommy as far as our aiming point, and we aimed farther right for the 58-yarder, but a 58-yarder a longer kick. I swung a little harder and that one kind of hugged the left upright. And then for that last kick, I had the same aiming point, and I think I just slowed down my leg swinging a little bit and hit a better rotating ball and a better ball and I thought it went down pretty much the middle.”
Heading into his first game at the brand new SoFi Stadium, Butker said he read an article that noted its turf was similar to that used at the Texans’ NRG Stadium and the Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium (I’d guess it was this one, by the way).
Butker said because he has had past success at those stadiums, he felt comfortable heading into Sunday against the Chargers. And before the game, his suspicion rang true.
Special teams coordinator Dave Toub established that Butker’s range would be 58 yards — or the 40-yard line.
“There wasn’t a lot of wind down there, so that’s a good thing — actually, a little bit like the greenhouse effect,” Chiefs head coach Andy Reid described. “It was warm down there. We said [the 40-yard line] before the game either way, and he felt comfortable with it. You saw that. He kicked enough of them from there that you got a pretty good idea for what Dave was feeling before the game.”
Butker’s first 58-yarder in the third quarter tied the Chiefs’ franchise record for longest kick, and he tied it again with his game-winning kick. After Sunday, Butker and Nick Lowery are the only two kickers in franchise history to hit from 58 twice. After Sunday, Butker is the only Chiefs kicker in history to make field goals in 16 consecutive games.
The Chiefs first acquired Butker during the 2017 season, when they signed him off the Panthers practice squad. He has grown better in each season since then, and this training camp, he increased his range to a comfortable 60 yards.
“Last season, I don’t know if I would have been consistent from that (58-yard) distance,” admitted Butker. “If you look back to 2017 against the Texans — same turf, like I said. 49-yarder at the end of the game, barely made it over. So I definitely have a stronger leg than I did in 2017. Last year, I had a pretty strong leg but did not have the accuracy. This offseason, I was able to make a lot of long kicks and then going into training camp, I really wanted to show the coaches I could be consistent from that distance. I thought I was in training camp and then a day like today, where you’re indoors, basically no wind, I was able to hit from 67 before the game and 70 at halftime.
“Coach Toub knew that and he told coach Reid that if we get to the 40-yard line, we’ll be good. That’d be a 58-yarder, and I can just swing easy. I don’t need to change anything. But last year, I don’t think I would have made all three of those — hopefully, I would have made the last one. But I definitely feel stronger and more accurate this season.”
It is understandable why Patrick Mahomes said after the game he is 100% confident in Butker, and his head coach agreed.
“I had full trust in him,” Reid said.