It seems like a pretty obvious statement that for the most accurate kicker in NFL history, misses are pretty hard to come by. It’s also pretty apparent that over Ravens kicker Justin Tucker’s six year run with the team, tough times have been equally as rare.
The flamboyant, borderline boastful special teamer has never shied away from the spotlight, and that’s a relatively easy thing to do when you’ve only had good times and great success throughout your career. Possibly the only moment that’s run counter to that for Tucker came against the New Orleans Saints in Week 7 when he pulled an extra point attempt that likely would’ve sent the game to overtime.
He didn’t step out of the spotlight following the game though, standing up to the media voluntarily and facing the music following the first major gaffe of his tenure in purple and black. He stressed the importance of accountability as a message he was particularly trying to send to his son, who after only seeing celebration dances and post game press conference wise cracks finally got to see a more vulnerable version of his usually unflappable father.
It was an atypical sight for fans as well, who are also used to a jovial Tucker following a victory, though it’s good to see another side of him that isn’t afraid to face the media when things aren’t going well for him. The prime example of this is Tucker speaking to Peter King for his Football Morning in America column, discussing what he learned throughout the whole ordeal:
“So I went to dinner with my wife and some friends after the game, and then, when I went home, I watched the broadcast copy and then the team copy of the kick. And I’ve seen the video maybe 100 times during the week. Purely from a football analysis standpoint, there is not much I can tell you. When the ball came off my foot, I felt it was going right down the middle and it just, it just … didn’t. It is very hard to pinpoint exactly what happened, or even two or three things. I mean, I looked at it a hundred times, looking for something, anything. It just didn’t go in, and we didn’t win the game, largely because of that, and I’ve got to accept it. I’m still learning from the experience, as we’re talking right now. If I had to put it into something short and sweet, I am incredibly thankful for the relationships with teammates and coaches here in Baltimore. The outpouring of support was almost unsettling. I was expecting it to be … people real quiet around me, acting real concerned, but it’s just been normal and supportive. As vicious a place as social media can be, Ravens fans and football fans have been really cool. If I have learned anything, it’s so good having good people around me on this team and to be able to fall back on those relationships. I’ve had kicks in my career I have wanted back before. There was a 41-yarder from the left hash I missed my rookie year at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh. This one just happened to be a bigger kick. But my grandfather told me in high school, ‘Justin, just kick the damn ball.’ That’s all that matters. No excuses. That’s what I’ve learned about kicking, and that’s what I’m gonna do. I’m just gonna keep kicking the damn ball.”
There are several notes to take away from this, but the main one seemed to be how Tucker has been able to seemingly move on from this in a relatively quick fashion. With kicker being one of the more mental positions in all of sports, Tucker’s greatest strength other than the power in his right leg is his ability to compartmentalize the position and just have some fun with it all.
That looks to be manifesting itself now in a tough moment for the superstar, as he wholly realizes it all comes down to “kicking the damn ball.” We’ll see if he continues to regain his form moving forward, but after a workmanlike performance versus Carolina, he appears to have shaken off the rough moment and is ready for Steelers week.