What are the longest punts in NFL history? originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
The 2022 NFL preseason has seen a couple of booming punts.
First, “Punt God” Matt Araiza of the Buffalo Bills booted an 82-yarder during his professional debut against the Indianapolis Colts.
Even though he’s a rookie, the big-time punt from Araiza wasn’t all that surprising. The sixth-round pick is coming off a junior season at San Diego State where he set NCAA records for average yards per punt (51.19), punts of at least 50 yards (39) and punts of at least 60 yards (18).
In Week 2 of the preseason, New Orleans Saints second-year pro Blake Gillikin nearly matched Araiza’s distance with an 81-yard strike versus the Green Bay Packers.
Gillikin, whose longest punt as a rookie was 63 yards, was randomly drug tested by the NFL the day after his 80-plus-yard bomb.
The long punts from Araiza and Gillikin aren’t technically official since they occurred in the preseason. But where would they rank among the longest punts in NFL history?
What is the longest punt in NFL history?
Araiza’s 82-yarder wouldn’t be the longest punt of all time. In fact, it wouldn’t even crack the top 10.
Steve O’Neal set the NFL record in 1969 with a mind-blowing 98-yard punt. And yes, it occurred in Denver. The then-New York Jets rookie booted the ball from the middle of the end zone at the old Mile High Stadium to the opposite 33-yard line before it bounced all the way to near the goal line, officially traveling from the Jets’ 1-yard line to the Denver Broncos’ 1-yard line.
The next-longest punt was a 93-yarder hit by Shawn McCarthy as a member of the New England Patriots in 1991. Like O’Neal, McCarthy punted the ball from the middle of the end zone at Ralph Wilson Stadium, now known as Highmark Stadium, and it bounced from the Buffalo Bills’ 35-yard line to inside the 1-yard line.
Would you believe that a quarterback owns the third-longest punt in NFL history? Well, that’s actually the case as Randall Cunningham booted a 91-yarder in 1989.
Why did the then-Philadelphia Eagles QB punt the ball, you might ask? It wasn’t due to an injury, or in an effort to try to fake out the opposing New York Giants. Cunningham simply had the experience – he punted 145 times over three collegiate seasons at UNLV – and would handle punting duties from time to time in the NFL.
On this historic occasion, Cunningham also struck the ball from the middle of the end zone at Giants Stadium to around New York’s 37-yard line before it bounced down to the 7.
Cunningham, who punted 20 times in his NFL career, booted an 80-yarder five seasons later.
Don Chandler and Rodney Williams are the only other players to record a punt of at least 90 yards. Chandler hit a 90-yarder as a member of the Packers in 1965, while Williams did the same with the Giants in 2001.
Last season, Packers fourth-year pro Corey Bojorquez recorded an 82-yard punt against the Bears in Chicago. That was the NFL’s longest punt since Robert Malone’s 84-yarder in 2013, and tied for the 19th-longest of all time. So Araiza’s punt would have been tied for 19th all time, while Gillikin’s would have been tied for 25th.
Here’s a full look at the longest punts in NFL history, according to Pro Football Reference:
1. Steve O’Neal, 1969, New York Jets: 98 yards
2. Shawn McCarthy, 1991, New England Patriots: 93 yards
3. Randall Cunningham, 1989, Philadelphia Eagles: 91 yards
T-4. Don Chandler, 1965, Green Bay Packers: 90 yards
T-4. Rodney Williams, 2001, New York Giants: 90 yards
6. Luke Prestridge, 1984, New England Patriots: 89 yards
7. Bob Waterfield, 1948, Los Angeles Rams: 88 yards
T-8. Dave Finzer, 1984, Chicago Bears: 87 yards
T-8. Bob Scarpitto, 1968, Boston Patriots: 87 yards
T-10. Larry Barnes, 1957, San Francisco 49ers: 86 yards
T-10. Bob Waterfield, 1947, Los Angeles Rams: 86 yards
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