Riley Patterson has become a ‘silver lining’ find during Lions 2021 season

SideLion Report

The Detroit Lions have had a rough season, but Riley Patterson has become a ‘silver’ lining and a find at kicker.

Traditionally, the Detroit Lions don’t do a whole lot right. In the past 60-plus years, since their last NFL championship, they have been the league’s poster child for general ineptitude.

But for over 40 years, the Lions have had a certain standard for outstanding kicking. That isn’t as exciting as Green Bay’s at quarterback, going back close to 30 years since Brett Favre took over right into Aaron Rodgers now, but it is also one of the most overlooked facets of the game.

In 1980 Eddie Murray, a kicker from Tulane, burst onto the scene and was selected to the Pro Bowl as a rookie and earned All-Pro honors as well. Murray was also named to the Pro Bowl in 1989, and for 12 seasons provided the Lions with a a steady place kicker. He hit 75.1 percent of his field-goal attempts in Detroit and 98.7 percent of his extra-point tries.

In 1992 Murray’s time in Detroit ended, and the Lions’ second-round draft choice that year, Jason Hanson from Washington State, took over. Hanson’s 21-year career, all with the Lions, set an NFL record for longest tenure with a single team. When Tom Brady left New England for Tampa Bay, he fell one season short of tying the record.

Hanson raised the bar for kicking excellence in Detroit, making 82.4 percent of his field-goal attempts and nailed 98.8 percent on extra points. After Hanson’s retirement, David Akers was solid for the Lions in 2013 before he also retired.

Order was restored when the Denver Broncos chose to release their long-time kicker Matt Prater during the 2014 season, and the Lions wasted little time to sign him. During Prater’s seven years in Detroit, he made over 84 percent of his field-goal attempts and nearly 96 percent of his extra points. During that time, the NFL also lengthened its extra point distance.

Riley Patterson has been a ‘silver lining’ find for the Lions this year

The Lions are pressing through a difficult 2021 season. The kicking has also been less steady, as Prater left for Arizona in free agency last offseason and Detroit has rostered several kickers since. But it seems like the Lions kicking may be in good hands now, or maybe we should say good feet.

Riley Patterson was an undrafted free agent in 2021 and signed with the Minnesota Vikings. After a pre-season injury, he was waived and signed by the New England Patriots to their practice squad.

In the midst of their inconsistent kicking, the Lions signed Patterson off the Patriots practice squad in November. Over five games since taking over as the Lions’ kicker, Patterson has hit all 10 of his field goals and all nine of his extra points. For his performance in the Week 15 over the Arizona Cardinals, he won NFC Special Teams Player of the Week.

Is Patterson destined to be the next great Lions kicker? Time will tell. But he has helped solidify a special teams unit has generally been pretty good all season, and he’s on the list of possible finds and ‘silver’ linings for this season.

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