Jake Bates made his first field goal at the professional level on Saturday. It was also his first field goal attempted in a game since he was in high school. At 64 yards it is one of the longest field goals in pro football history. The Detroit Lions are among the NFL teams to have inquired about him per Tony Paul of Detroit News.

Bates’ field goal was highly impressive, especially considering it was his first professional field goal attempt in a game. He served as a kickoff specialist for Texas State and Arkansas at the collegiate level and did not have any field goal attempts in college either or even in high school.

Bates actually made the 64-yard kick twice as the Battlehawks called timeout to ice him just as he went into his kick on the first attempt. His first kick sailed down the middle with plenty of distance. Ford Field was buzzing after seeing the kick despite being after the whistle. Bates’s 2nd kick again made it with good accuracy and plenty of distance. The field goal gave the Panthers an 18-16 lead with 3 seconds left in the game ultimately winning the game.

The 64-yard field goal was only 2 yards short of the current NFL record which also occurred in Ford Field. The record was set by Justin Tucker at 66 yards in 2021 to secure victory for the Baltimore Ravens over the Detroit Lions. Tuckers’ record-setting kick also took place in Ford Field.

I asked if Bates changes the point of contact on the ball or where he lines up on such long kicks as Justin Tucker took an extra step before setting the record.

“No, I mean with the whole Justin Tucker thing a couple years ago where he did the little extra step. He was from 66 I think. I mean I trust my leg from there where I would rather miss it my way than miss it a way trying to do something different.” Bates answered. “And so I’ve seen myself do it before so I had the confidence and I didn’t think I needed to change anything. I got a perfect snap, perfect hold, hit the ball.”

Bates was asked by a different reporter if he was expecting to be iced on his first attempt.

“Honestly I didn’t even think about them even having a timeout, that didn’t even register in my head until I heard the whistle blow,” Bates answered. “But I was already in the flow of it. I think that’s a good thing I didn’t, it didn’t even cross my mind that they could ice me. Honestly, in that moment, I forgot icing exists.”

Panthers quarterback EJ Perry pointed out after Bates explained he was not considering being iced. “We had iced them earlier, about 30 minutes earlier than that too. Just so you guys know how locked into his kick he was.” 

Michigan Panthers Head Coach Mike Nolan spoke after the game explaining that he had made similar kicks that week in practice and out of his own initiative.

“The other day in practice, it was this past week. He did kick, he just lined up and kicked just like you saw him today. They looked exactly like that.” Nolan said. “They could have gone for 70 I guess if you wanted them, but he kicked just like that in practice. It got my attention because up to that point, we were keeping things to the 40s and 50s and all that good stuff.”

“Well, he just lined up with a holder and there wasn’t a line at the time. He was just, I don’t know showing off maybe I guess. But I sat there and watched him and he kicked that thing 65 yards in practice and he did it a couple of times just like you saw.” Nolan continued. “It went right down through the middle. If that continues that’ll be great for us. But Jake has been quiet all along just coming to practice doing his thing, kicking. And he’s done a great job. And he doesn’t have a tremendous amount of history to even speak about as far as kicking goes.”

Bates played soccer at Central Arkansas in 2017 where he was named the Missouri Valley Defensive Player of the Week in mid-October as a freshman. Despite being a defender he recorded a goal and 4 shots on target logging 1,639 minutes over 18 matches.

He served as a kickoff specialist at Texas State in 2020 and 2021 and at Arkansas in 2022. He has not attempted a field goal in college although he did handle 188 kickoffs averaging 63 yards per attempt. Despite the absence of field goal attempts, he was signed by the Houston Texans in 2023 as an undrafted free agent. He played in 1 preseason game during which he made 2 of his 3 extra points. He was later waived by the Texans.

Bates is now tied with ex-Detroit Lion Matt Prater for 2nd longest field goal in pro football history. Prater hit a 64-yard field goal in 2013 while playing for the Denver Broncos.

Previously the longest field goal in spring football was held by Donny Hageman when he made a 59-yard field goal for the Battlehawks last season. Compared to the longest in CFL history, it is 2 yards longer than Paul McCallum’s 62-yarder in 2001 for the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

Jake Bates on Twitter @jakebates30

Jonathan Clink on Twitter @JonathanClink

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Jonathan Clink
Jonathan Clink will work as UFL News Hub's primary correspondent covering the Michigan Panthers for the 2024. He has written over 250 articles covering the Canadian Football League prior to joining UFL News Hub. Clink is originally from Winnipeg, Manitoba and currently lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He has a background in several other sports as well having played soccer, basketball, and hockey competitively.

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