Weather puts chill in Broncos' kicking plans

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Denver Broncos kicker Matt Prater owns the best field goal percentage from 50 yards and beyond of any player in league history who started his career after the league's AFL-NFL merger in 1970.

He's also never missed a kick of at least 50 yards in overtime in his career -- he's 4-of-4.

But on a frigid, blustery night in New England, the Broncos passed on a potential 54-yard game-winning field goal attempt in overtime Sunday night. Facing a fourth-and-8 from the Patriots' 37-yard line with 5:01 remaining in overtime, the Broncos passed on giving Prater a chance and had punter Britton Colquitt punt it away instead.

Prater would have had to kick into the stadium's open end on a night when the wind battered kicks to the ground for both teams. Interim head coach Jack Del Rio said he asked Broncos special teams coordinator Jeff Rodgers if it was in Prater's range.

"I asked Jeff ‘Are we in range?' and he said 'No,'" Del Rio said following the 34-31 overtime loss. "I even said, 'Field goal here?' and he said 'No, I really don't think we can make this kick here.' It was tempting, because it was close."

Prater had made a 48-yarder in pre-game warm-ups in the open end of the stadium, but did not attempt any longer kicks before the game, when he routinely kicks 50-yarders and even a 60-yarder or two when the weather is better.

Prater has also been standing out in the elements for several hours by the time overtime was played. He had just one touchback on a kickoff to that end of the stadium in the game -- late in the fourth quarter, after the Broncos had tied the game 31-31, but even that kick didn't go very deep into the end zone.