After a 4-for-4 day including the game-winning field goal in overtime, Lions kicker Jason Hanson has been named the NFC special teams player of the week.
Try this on for an impressive accomplishment for Hanson: This is his 12th player of the week award, most in Lions history, topping his old teammate Barry Sanders, who was the offensive player of the week 11 times. (The NFL started giving out player of the week awards for offense and defense in 1984 and for special teams in 1993. Hanson was the first NFC special teams player of the week in Week One of 1993.)
With four field goals and 14 points on Sunday, Hanson passed John Carney for No. 3 all time on both the all-time points list and all-time field goals list. Hanson has scored 2,062 points and kicked 479 field goals in his career, ranking behind Morten Andersen and Gary Anderson in both categories. Hanson also has nine career overtime field goals, tied for most in NFL history. (He would have 10 overtime field goal if not for the Lions’ bizarre Week Three mixup in which they eschewed a chip-shot overtime field goal in Tennessee and instead tried to draw the Titans offside, only to snap the ball and lose the game on a failed fourth down.)
Most people think of Adam Vinatieri as the current kicker who’d have the best case for the Hall of Fame, based on Vinatieri’s big kicks in big games. But kickers can only make big kicks in big games when their teammates give them opportunities, and the reason Vinatieri has had a lot more opportunities in big games than Hanson is that Vinatieri played most of his career with Tom Brady and Peyton Manning as teammates, while Hanson played most of his career with Rodney Peete, Scott Mitchell, Charlie Batch, Joey Harrington and Jon Kitna as teammates. When you look at their full bodies of work you see that Hanson has made 82 more field goals than Vinatieri, and on long field goals it’s not even close: Hanson has made 51 of 91 field goals from 50 yards or longer, while Vinatieri has made just 15 of 29 field goals from 50 yards or longer.
If any current kicker belongs in the Hall of Fame, it’s Hanson.