Throughout the 1990s, the NFL witnessed a golden era of kickers. It was a decade where the position grew in prominence and respect. The ’90s saw kickers transforming from mere point scorers to clutch performers capable of snatching triumph from the jaws of defeat.
The criteria for selecting the best among them are as varied as they are complex. Accuracy, of course, stands paramount—precision under pressure, the ability to consistently convert attempts from any distance.
Speaking of distance, the leg power to clear 50-plus yards with room to spare became not just admired but expected. Points scored over seasons and careers measure longevity and clutch capacity—the reliable foundation upon which many a playoff hope was built.
But beyond statistics, the defining moments of clutch performances—those heart-stopping, time-freezing kicks that defined and often decided critical games—are what etched the names of the ’90s kickers into the annals of NFL lore.
1) Morten Andersen
Known as “The Great Dane,” Morten Andersen’s career spanned an incredible 25 seasons, but it was during the ’90s that he truly shone. Andersen was synonymous with consistency and longevity.
With a poised demeanor and a technique as smooth as silk, Andersen was a fixture for the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons. His career highlights include seven Pro Bowl selections and six All-Pro nods.
He was instrumental in the Falcons’ 1998 Super Bowl run, highlighted by his game-winning kick in the NFC Championship game. Andersen retired as the NFL’s all-time leading scorer—a testament to his enduring excellence.
2) Gary Anderson
Gary Anderson is another name that stands out in the pantheon of great ’90s kickers. He is perhaps best known for his 1998 season with the Minnesota Vikings, where he became the first kicker in NFL history to complete a perfect regular season, not missing a single field goal or extra point attempt.
Despite a heart-wrenching miss in the NFC Championship game, Anderson’s season remains one of the most impressive in history. His accuracy was his hallmark, and his ability to deliver under pressure made him a key asset for every team he played for.
3) Norm Johnson
Norm Johnson may not have had the same name recognition as some of his contemporaries. Still, his impact on the field was undeniable. Playing for the Seattle Seahawks, Atlanta Falcons, and Pittsburgh Steelers during the ’90s, Johnson was a model of consistency.
His powerful leg was especially noted for its reliability in clutch situations, which made him a valued player in high-stakes games. Over his career, Johnson amassed over 1,700 points, placing him among the highest-scoring kickers of all time.
4) Matt Stover
Matt Stover’s career began in 1991, the onset of the ’90s decade that established him as a premier kicker. His tenure with the Cleveland Browns and the Baltimore Ravens saw him become one of the most accurate kickers in the league.
Stover was known for his meticulous preparation and mental toughness, traits that allowed him to perform at a high level for over two decades. His reliability earned him a spot in the Pro Bowl in 2000, and he played a vital role in the Ravens’ Super Bowl XXXV victory.
5) Jason Elam
A 1993 NFL Draft third-round pick, Jason Elam spent the bulk of his career with the Denver Broncos. With a powerful leg, he was known for his ability to hit from long distance, famously tying the longest field goal record at 63 yards in 1998—a record that stood for 15 years.
Elam was a key scorer in the Broncos’ offensive arsenal during their back-to-back Super Bowl victories, earning him three Pro Bowl selections during his career. His 1,983 career points are a testament to his effectiveness and longevity.
6) John Kasay
John Kasay was the epitome of reliability during his tenure in the NFL. Drafted by the Seattle Seahawks, he later became a cornerstone for the Carolina Panthers. Kasay’s career spanned over two decades, and he was known for his accuracy and poise under pressure.
He was one of the few remaining straight-on kickers in an era where soccer style was dominant. With a career field goal percentage of over 80%, Kasay was a model of consistency and finished with an impressive 1,970 points.
7) Pete Stoyanovich
Pete Stoyanovich started his career with the Miami Dolphins. He quickly established himself as one of the league’s most accurate kickers. His powerful leg allowed him to make 70% of his field goals from 50+ yards throughout the ’90s.
Notably, he kicked a 58-yard field goal in 1989, one of the longest in NFL history at the time. Stoyanovich’s tenure with the Dolphins included several game-winning field goals, earning him a place among the team’s all-time greats.
8) Steve Christie
Steve Christie is best remembered for his time with the Buffalo Bills, where he became the franchise’s all-time leading scorer. Christie was known for his accuracy, particularly in adverse weather conditions, and his ability to make clutch kicks in critical situations.
He played a significant role in the Bills’ four consecutive Super Bowl appearances in the early ’90s. Christie’s most memorable moment may have come in the 1992 postseason when he kicked a game-winning 32-yard field goal in overtime during the greatest comeback in NFL history.
9) Chris Jacke
Chris Jacke was a significant contributor to the Green Bay Packers, especially during their rise to prominence in the mid to late ’90s. Jacke’s career with the Packers included a Super Bowl win in Super Bowl XXXI, where his scoring played a crucial role.
He was known for his accuracy and his clutch performances, often delivering in high-pressure situations. By the time he retired, Jacke had accumulated 820 points, a figure that speaks volumes about his impact on the field.
10) Al Del Greco
Al Del Greco’s calm demeanor and steady leg made him a fixture in the NFL for over a decade. As the primary kicker for the Houston Oilers and later the Tennessee Titans, Del Greco was as reliable as they come, particularly from mid-range. In the 1991 season, he hit a career-high 85.7% of his field goals.
His precision was a contributing factor to the Titans’ memorable and narrowly missed championship bid in Super Bowl XXXIV. Del Greco finished his career with 1,584 points, cementing his legacy as a kicker who delivered when called upon.
Statistics Speak: Analyzing the Numbers
To truly appreciate the prowess of the 1990s’ best kickers, a closer examination of their statistics is essential. These figures not only quantify their contributions to their respective teams but also underscore their precision and clutch performance under pressure.
Field Goal Percentage
This metric is crucial in evaluating a kicker’s accuracy. For instance, Gary Anderson achieved a career milestone in 1998 when he became the first NFL kicker to complete a perfect regular season, not missing a single FG or extra point attempt.
Meanwhile, Morten Andersen and John Kasay consistently maintained field goal percentages above 80%, a testament to their precision and consistency over a large volume of kicks.
Longest Field Goals
A kicker’s range can be just as critical as his accuracy, and the ’90s saw some remarkable long-distance feats. Jason Elam tied the record for the longest field goal at 63 yards in 1998, demonstrating his exceptional leg strength.
Chris Jacke and Pete Stoyanovich also demonstrated their range with several 50+ yard field goals throughout the decade, contributing crucial points from distances that many teams would not consider scoring opportunities.
Points scored is a fundamental statistic for kickers, reflecting their overall impact on the game. Morten Andersen led the pack, finishing the decade as the NFL’s all-time leading scorer, a record he held until 2006.
Gary Anderson wasn’t far behind, ranking second in total points by the end of the ’90s, showcasing the significant role he played in the scoring for his teams.
While not as easily quantifiable, clutch performances define a kicker’s career. Whether it was Steve Christie’s postseason heroics or Matt Stover’s crucial kicks during the Baltimore Ravens’ tight games, the ability to perform under pressure is what separates good kickers from the greats.
Each kicker’s profile is dotted with game-winning field goals, often in adverse conditions or high-stakes situations.
By dissecting these statistics, we gain insight into the exceptional skills these kickers possessed. Their ability to consistently convert field goals provided their teams with a strategic weapon, turning the tide of games and, at times, seasons.
These numbers speak volumes, etching the legacies of the ’90s kickers not just in the record books but in the memories of fans who witnessed their cold-blooded executions on the field.
As the final whistle blows on our retrospective of the ’90s NFL kickers, we reflect on a decade defined by the emergence of specialists who left an indelible mark on the game. The kickers of this era were not merely players; they were pioneers who transformed a position and influenced a generation.
From Morten Andersen’s remarkable scoring consistency to Gary Anderson’s perfect season, these kickers set a new standard for excellence. They were trailblazers, pushing the limits of accuracy and redefining the range of the field goal.
The ’90s NFL kickers were instrumental in changing how the kicking position was viewed. No longer an afterthought, kickers became vital to a team’s success, with their ability to score from a distance and in critical moments becoming key factors in-game strategy.
In conclusion, the kickers of the ’90s elevated the game of football, carving out a legacy of precision, power, and poise. They set benchmarks that would challenge their successors and left stories that would become part of the rich tapestry of NFL history.
As the game continues to evolve, the feats of these kickers remain a high watermark, a reminder of a decade when the specialists became stars, and every kick had the potential to write history.