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Game Recap: Ravens 18, Lions 16

Posted Dec 16, 2013

Ravens kicker Justin Tucker hits a 61-yard game-winning field goal to beat Detroit, 18-16.

Justin Tucker usually doesn’t stand close to Head Coach John Harbaugh on the sideline.

But with the Ravens driving into field-goal range for a potential game-winning kick, Tucker planted himself next to the head coach.

Fourth-and-8 from the Lions’ 43-yard line. The Ravens had a decision to make.

Go for it or give Tucker a shot at a 61-yarder?

Harbaugh and Special Teams Coordinator Jerry Rosburg started discussing it. Tucker, as he’s never done before, interjected.

“I got this,” he said.

Tucker crushed it.

He dropped the kick through the bottom right corner with 38 seconds remaining, sending the Ravens into jubilation with an 18-16 victory over the Detroit Lions at Ford Field.

Tucker's game-winning boot set a variety of different records.

It's the longest in dome history. It’s the fourth-longest field goal in NFL history and the longest in Ravens franchise annals. Tucker became the first kicker in NFL history to hit field goals in the 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s in the same game. It’s his sixth game-winner.

“I wanted [Harbaugh] to know just by looking at me that he shouldn’t have any reservations about sending me out there,” Tucker said.

“If they send me out there, they have a reason and I think I can make the kick regardless of where it is on the field. ... I don’t think about it in terms of where I can’t make the kick. The word ‘can’t’ is not one we’re about, especially in this month of December.”

The Ravens’ second road win of the season, sending them to 8-6 on the year, is huge. It keeps them in the sixth and final spot in the AFC wild-card playoff picture ahead of Miami and pulls them to just a game behind the AFC North-leading Cincinnati Bengals.

Tucker accounted for all of the Ravens’ scoring with six field goals.

He has now hit 33 straight, the longest active streak in the NFL and just three shy of Matt Stover’s franchise record. Tucker has 15 field goals in his last four games, and that’s despite not getting an attempt last week against Minnesota. He leads the NFL in successful boots (35).

But none of his previous achievements could top a 61-yarder to win the game.

It immediately spawned the nickname “Legatron,” on Twitter, a play off Lions All-Pro wide receiver Calvin Johnson’s nickname of “Megatron”.

“I don’t know if I’m necessarily big on nicknames, but I feel like Legatron is pretty cool,” Tucker said.

Until Tucker’s kick, it looked as if the Ravens could be doomed for a familiar fate.

The defense played lights out after surrendering a long touchdown drive on the first possession of the game. Cornerback Jimmy Smith held Johnson under 100 yards receiving and out of the end zone. The Ravens picked off quarterback Matthew Stafford three times, including two from linebacker Daryl Smith and defensive tackle DeAngelo Tyson.

But the offense struggled to put the ball in the end zone to give the Ravens any kind of breathing room despite controlling the game. Baltimore was 0-for-3 in the red zone when it came to scoring touchdowns.

Then the defense yielded yet another late touchdown drive. The Lions (7-7) drove 80 yards on 11 plays and scored on a 14-yard touchdown pass to tight end Joseph Fauria with 2:17 left to take a 16-15 lead.

They left too much time. The Ravens struggled early this season in close games, but had another dose of magic after seemingly emptying the hat in last week’s back-and-forth snow bowl against Minnesota.

“We don’t panic. We don’t let the situation get too big,” Flacco said. “I wish it wasn’t like that and we didn’t have to continue to play these types of games. But we’ve played a lot of them.”

On third-and-10, Flacco found wide receiver Jacoby Jones deep over the middle for a 27-yard gain. That put the Ravens at the Detroit 45-yard line. A completion next went for no yards, then Flacco was incomplete to tight end Dennis Pitta.

On another third-and-10, the Ravens surprisingly opted to run with Ray Rice, thinking they could surprise the Lions and give Tucker a shorter attempt. It was stuffed for just two yards.

“We probably settled a little bit. I don’t really like to do that,” said Flacco, who finished 20-of-38 for 222 yards. “We probably settled because we had confidence he was going to make the kick.”

Putting their faith in Tucker turned out to be the right move.

He tested his range in pre-game warmups and connected from 70 yards. His career-long in a game was from 56 yards, which he did last year as a rookie.

“I definitely felt like I got a leg into it,” Tucker said. “But it jumped up so high that I thought I might have gotten under it just a little bit. But when it cleared the crossbar and I saw one of the officials put his hands up, I maybe was a little bit surprised. But at the end of the day I was just glad it went through.”

The Lions had one last chance after Tucker’s field goal, but Stafford’s first pass was intercepted by rookie safety Matt Elam, who was skewered during the week in the media for calling Johnson old. It was the rookies’ first career interception and it couldn’t have come at a better time.

“It was a great feeling to get a team win,” Elam said. “It’s Monday night and everybody is going to play their best game. Everybody is watching. It was a relief.”

The Ravens have two games left, and still may have to win both to reach the playoffs. It doesn’t get much easier with the New England Patriots coming to M&T Bank Stadium next Sunday and then on the road in Cincinnati to finish the regular season.

But Baltimore is still alive, still in control of its destiny. And after another thriller, destiny is a word that may start popping up more in Baltimore.

“To sum it up in just one word,” Tucker said. “Pandemonium.”

Please Note

The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed on represent those of individual authors, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions or policies of the Baltimore Ravens' organization, front office staff, coaches and executives. Authors' views are formulated independently from any inside knowledge and/or conversations with Ravens officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.

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