Clutch Justin Tucker Is Perfect In The Playoffs


The Ravens had a third-and-1 from the Pittsburgh 34-yard line. They clung to a five-point lead with momentum shifting Pittsburgh's direction after running back Justin Forsett's fumble and Steelers' quick touchdown strike.

It says something about the Ravens' confidence in kicker Justin Tucker that instead of barging their way forward for a first down, Baltimore attempted a deep pass to the end zone, which went incomplete.

"We had points with Justin Tucker," quarterback Joe Flacco said after the game.

Really? Did the Ravens really have a 52-yard field goal in Heinz Field's terrible wind and field conditions in the bag?

Turns out, yes.

Tucker clobbered the kick, a few feet inside the left upright. Turns out, upon inspection of the record books, it was even more impressive than at first sight.

The kick tied the longest NFL field goal in Heinz Field history, which dates back to 2001. Former Steelers kicker Jeff Reed hit a 52-yarder in 2010, but that was in a warm Week 1 game in early September. In Heinz Field history, 29 field goals of 50 or more yards have been attempted. Only eight have been made.

"Really? Well that's cool, I guess," Tucker said. "I didn't really think about it at that time. I was just pumped to make the kick that put us up eight points."

Ravens Special Teams Coordinator Jerry Rosburg also didn't realize the impressiveness of the kick until afterwards.

"After the game, it seemed, 'That was a really great kick,'" Rosburg said. "He had had such a great warmup and he was so confident during the course of the game, and I never thought twice about it. When asked about [the kick], it was, 'Yeah, let's go!' It was one of those easy calls because I felt really confident he was going to make it, and he went out there and he felt confident, and then he nailed it."

Quarterback Joe Flacco has drawn praise for his postseason prowess, but Tucker deserves some, too. He has yet to miss in the playoffs.

Tucker was a perfect 4-for-4 during the Super Bowl run, including a 47-yarder in Denver in the divisional playoffs and 38-yarder in Super Bowl XLVII. He nailed all three of his attempts in Pittsburgh last Saturday, adding a 28-yarder in the second quarter and 45-yarder in the third quarter to his 52-yard bomb.

Tucker was asked what it means to him to kick in the playoffs.

"To me, it's not about stats," he said. "It's not about numbers or anything like that. It's about winning.

"There's definitely something different about playing in the playoffs versus the regular season. At any time, the tension is just palpable. While the feeling of stress is very high in the playoffs, so is the reward when you succeed on the field."

Tucker is a performer in the truest sense. The music major and opera singer likes the pressure.

"He enjoys that moment," Rosburg said. "He likes being out there on the stage."

As always, Tucker pointed back to his teammates when talking about his accomplishments. Punter Sam Koch has been a stellar holder and Baltimore's unit has made it work with its third long snapper of the season, Patrick Scales. It's not just them who he kicks for.

"The pressure I feel and I like to carry with me is the pressure of being held to a higher standard by each and every man in this locker room," he said. "I see every day what these guys go though. I just want to reward them with three points on the scoreboard."

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