The Ravens rookie kicker delivered on the biggest stage, booting a 47-yard goal to give the Ravens a 38-35 victory over the Denver Broncos to send the Ravens to the AFC championship for the second straight season.
“We’re very glad that we made that kick,” Tucker said, with a big smile on his face. “I always feel good about going out on that field. Not a lot of people get to do this. This is a heck of a lot of fun.”
Tucker’s game-winning field goal was a stark contrast to the way the Ravens season ended last year against New England, when Billy Cundiff’s 32-yard game-tying field goal sailed wide left at the end of regulation.
Tucker, who beat out Cundiff for the job in training camp, drilled the kick down the middle with plenty of room to spare.
“[Long snapper] Morgan [Cox] and [holder] Sam [Koch] do a great job for me, so with Morgan’s snaps and Sam’s holds, it’s pretty hard to miss,” Tucker said. “As long as we’re sticking with routine, we feel like we have a chance to be successful.”
It was Tucker’s only field goal attempt of the day, as he spent most of the game on the sidelines in the frigid Denver temperatures.
While the kick came in the high Denver altitude, where kickers can often get more distance on their field goal attempts, it was far from a chip shot. The turf at Denver’s Sports Authority Field was chewed up and messy, which made it difficult for the kickers to plant on the kicks.
To get a feel for the turf, Tucker actually jogged onto the field with Kicking Coach Randy Brown between overtime periods and tried a practice kick.
“Usually at the change of the quarter, you don’t see people out there kicking a ball, but we figured no one has told us not to do it before, so we’ll go hit one,” Tucker said. “Randy and I went out there and smacked one, and I’m glad we did because it’s different kicking on the sideline where the grass is green and lush and it’s all good, as opposed to on the field where it’s straight mud at a certain point.”
Tucker has tried a practice kick like that before, and Harbaugh said they make a common practice of it.
“That’s pretty standard for us to run out there and practice those kicks,” Harbaugh said. “We always do that. That’s the normal deal.”
The kick from Tucker is the latest accomplishment in the rookie’s stellar season, where he made 30-of-33 field goals in the regular season. He showed time and time again that he wasn’t fazed by big moments, and his clutch kick Saturday capped off a remarkable comeback and has the Ravens one game away from the Super Bowl.
“Nobody wavered, not a single man on that sideline,” Tucker said. “We were all confident in each other.”