Baltimore Ravens kicker Justin Tucker has never lacked confidence.
Never was that more apparent than in 2012 in the AFC wild-card game against the Denver Broncos. Tucker, donning distinctive Ravens' purple cleats, seized the moment in artic Denver conditions to propel the Ravens toward another Super Bowl run.
"He's got a very confident persona," Special Teams Coordinator Jerry Rosburg said of Tucker. "He's a confident young man in a lot of things that he does. He's full of life and full of personality, and he enjoys those moments. You could tell when he bounced out there (in Denver) that it wasn't intimidating to him. He was ready to go seize the opportunity."
Temperatures fell to 13 degrees at kickoff, and Tucker was left freezing on the sidelines for most of it. The rookie kicker did not attempt a field goal until his number was called in the second overtime, but made the most of his limited opportunity.
On a torn up field, Tucker and Kicking Coach Randy Brown ran out on the field in between overtimes and kicked a practice shot to gauge the conditions. While controversial at the time, there was no rule against it, and Tucker said he was glad he got a chance to feel the battle-torn turf.
"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."
The preparation paid off for Tucker, as the biggest moment of the rookie's career would come just minutes later.
"Ed (Reed) came over and said a couple of words to me, but I honestly don't remember what he said," Tucker said. "I was locked in. You're going to have butterflies when you get that opportunity. It's not about suppressing them, but using those feelings in a positive way. You have to develop that. You have to work at it. I just remember walking away smiling, knowing I was going to make the kick."
Tucker's game-winning 47-yard kick sealed the victory for the Ravens, and sparked a run that concluded triumphantly with the team's second Lombardi trophy.
"We're very glad that we made that kick," Tucker said following the win. "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."