Harrison Butker ranks as the second-most accurate kicker in NFL history but his 2022 season started off on the wrong foot — literally — and it’s been a struggle for the six-year veteran to get back on track.
Yet despite missing his third extra point of the season and a potential game-winning field goal try from 51 yards in Sunday’s 30-24 overtime win over Houston, Chiefs head coach Andy Reid gave a vote of confidence to his struggling kicker.
“Being a kicker is a little bit like being a batter, and sometimes you get into a slum,” Reid said after Sunday’s game. “But he’s a great one and he’ll get through it.”
Butker suffered a high-ankle sprain in his left foot in the team’s preseason opener against the Arizona Cardinals, an injury that would keep him out of the next four ball games. But even though Butker was comfortable enough to return using his typical field goal approach, he’s still using a shortened approach on kickoffs. While the ankle continues to get better, Butker concedes he’s still not 100 percent.
Butker entered Sunday with a career field goal accuracy of 88.95%, ranking No. 2 in NFL history behind Justin Tucker. His success rate on extra points in this career is 93.86%.
After his two misses against Houston, Butker is now 16-of-21 (76.19%) on field goals on the season and 28-of-31 (90.32%) on extra points. Both rates are significantly below his career averages.
Yet while accuracy has been an issue for Butker, his distance has largely remained unaffected. He hit a franchise-record 62-yard field against Buffalo in his first game back from the ankle injury. His kickoff yardage average of 64.4 yards is the highest of his career, and up from 62.9% in 2021. His touchback percentage on kickoffs, however, is at a career-low 60.4 percent. He’s averaged touchbacks on 68% of his kickoffs during his career.
Butker appeared to be turning his season around over the past four weeks, connecting on all 12 of his extra-point tries and hitting 10-of-11 field goals. His only miss in that stretch was a 55-yard field goal against Cincinnati that would have tied that game with less than 4 minutes remaining.
Running back Jerick McKinnon says teammates have support for their beleaguered kicker.
“We’ve all got to pick each other up,” McKinnon said. “Seventeen weeks is a long season. Nobody’s perfect. We all make mistakes, we’re all human. We have the utmost belief in him that he’s going to make those field goals. He’s been so clutch for us in the past.”
Last week after Patrick Mahomes threw three interceptions against the Denver Broncos, Reid said he wanted his quarterback to continue firing. He had similar advice for Butker fighting himself out of his current funk.
“He’ll come out of it even better than what he was,” Reid said. “But you got to keep kicking, and that’s what we’re going to do with him.”