As we move towards the end of this series, it's now time to cover special teams, one of the most underappreciated aspects of the game. The Ravens have had quite a few special teams greats, like Jones, Stover, and Tucker.
It was a cold January night, and the two teams had been battling all evening, in what would be regarded as one of the greatest NFL games ever. Two special teams touchdowns, two bombs for scores and a pick-six had all occurred, yet it all came down to a single kick. The man responsible for the kick? An undrafted rookie kicker out of Texas, Justin Tucker.
The Ravens were just a year removed from the heartbreak of a missed kick. In the 2011 AFC Championship, All-Pro Kicker Billy Cundiff sliced a field goal attempt wide right, had he made the kick, it would've forced overtime. What would've happened then? No one knows, but the heartbreak of not knowing was enough.
Except this time, the result was different. The rookie looked calm and poised. He stepped right up, and sent a 47-yard attempt straight down the middle. The Ravens had just completed the upset of the Broncos, and Tucker was the guy to finish them off.
Ravens fans have grown used to these kind of kicks from Tucker, as he booted this 61-yard FG to put the Ravens over the Lions. In his short three year career, Tucker has accomplished many things, and received lots of accolades. Right now, his impressive resume reads:
- Super Bowl champion (XLVII)
- Pro Bowl (2013)
- First-team All-Pro (2013)
- Baltimore Ravens MVP (2013)
- AFC champion (2012)
- 4× AFC Special Teams Player of the Week (2013, 2014)
- 2× AFC Special Teams Player of the Month (Nov 2013, Nov 2014)
- Most Accurate Kicker in NFL History (89.815%)
Ravens franchise records
- Most field goals in a single season - 38 (2013)
- Most points scored in a single season - 140 (2013)
- Most field goals in a Single Game - 6 vs. Detroit Lions (2013)
- Longest field goal - 61 yards vs. Detroit Lions (2013)
- Longest field goal in a domed stadium - 61 yards vs. Detroit Lions (2013)
- First NFL kicker to kick a field goal in the 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60s in the same game
This is all very impressive for a guy who was undrafted, and had to compete for the starting job.
Off the field, Tucker is a very likeable guy too. In the locker room, he is known for his impressions of Christoper Walken and South Park characters. Tucker is also musically talented as well, regularly performing opera, and majoring in music at Texas. He also surprised his Texas teammates when he jumped into the center of a 'rap circle' and started freestyling. Former Texas and Ravens teammate Sergio Kindle said it best, "Tucker was the only white guy with the nerve (or talent) to participate." There's a lot more to Tucker's awesome off-field personality too, you can read all about it here, in one of my previous articles.
The Ravens are very lucky to have the best kicker in the league. Tucker continues the tradition of excellent Ravens special teams members. Guys like Matt Stover, Jacoby Jones, and Sam Koch have all contributed significantly via special teams. I sure hope Baltimore can keep Tucker under contract, as his extension is up this season. You go 'Legatron'!