Chad Ryland longest field goal: Patriots kicker redeems himself with career-long game-winner vs. Broncos

The beauty of sports is that millions can watch a player’s greatest and lowest moments unfold in real time. Rarely can you see both in the same game.

That’s how the night unfolded for Patriots rookie kicker Chad Ryland, who nearly doomed New England’s chances against the favored by Broncos by missing a field goal and an extra point in what was initially a defensive battle.

Ryland’s struggles seemed like they would be just an afterthought when the Patriots jumped out to a 23-7 lead, but he found himself right back on the spot when the Broncos stormed back to tie the game.

New England’s defense put the ball back in Bailey Zappe’s hands, and Zappe got the ball far enough down the field for Ryland to have a chance at redemption. The rookie made sure to make the most of it.

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Here are the details on Ryland’s game-winning field goal and his up-and-down rookie season.

Chad Ryland longest field goal

Ryland kicked the game-winning 56-yard field goal against the Broncos on Sunday night, redeeming himself after a rough start to the night.

The rookie missed a 47-yard field goal attempt in the second quarter, and he would miss an extra point try on the Patriots’ first touchdown of the night. While he settled in and converted two extra points the rest of the way, 56 yards seemed like a stretch for Ryland. Bill Belichick didn’t have a choice. He sent Ryland out in hopes of avoiding overtime, and Ryland — perhaps aided by the thin air in Denver — drilled it. 

The kick was easily Ryland’s longest make of the season. His previous career-high was 51 yards, and he was just 1 of 3 on attempts from 50 or more yards entering Sunday night.

Ryland went into Week 16 with a disappointing 65 percent success rate on field goal tries this season, though he was perfect on extra point attempts. The Patriots were hoping for more out of a player they drafted early in the fourth round out of Maryland in April, but Ryland showed the potential of his leg as the final seconds ticked away in Denver.

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Ryland’s night mirrored an infamous performance by Patriots great Stephen Gostkowski, who missed three field goals and an extra point for the Titans in a game against these same Broncos in 2020 only to drill the game-winning field goal. That kick was only from 25 yards out, however. Ryland needed every bit of his strength to win the game for New England, and he gave viewers what felt like a Christmas miracle.

Patriots fans might have mixed feelings about the result, as the win pushed New England down to the fourth pick in the projected 2024 NFL Draft order, but winning is contagious, and New England is hoping to carry some semblance of hope into 2024. 

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