After leaving M&T Bank Stadium Sunday night, Justin Tucker grabbed a quick bite to eat with some friends he hadn’t seen in a while and spoke to a couple coaches and teammates during his drive home.
As football fans know (and are still shocked about), the Ravens’ All-Pro missed the first extra point of his life, snapping a 222-kick NFL streak. It cost the Ravens a chance at overtime against the New Orleans Saints and spoiled a thrilling fourth-quarter comeback.
But Tucker stuck to his routine. He got home, settled in and watched the tape of his performance.
“This one was just tougher for me to figure out,” Tucker said. “I can analyze it and be as critical as possible, but at the end of the day, it’s a missed kick.”
Tucker has been more than willing to stand up, take accountability and talk about moving on. He talked immediately after the game. He talked again on Wednesday when reporters had their first chance to see how he’s handling the kick three days later.
But he doesn’t seem all too keen about breaking down the nitty gritty details or harkening back to Sunday night. Tucker’s moving on.
On Monday, he participated in a charity cornhole tournament hosted by, of all people, former Ravens kicker Matt Stover – a man who knows a thing or two about how to bounce back from missed kicks. Stover was an all-time great kicker, but he missed 92 of his 563 career attempts. He still played 19 seasons. Tucker won the cornhole tournament, by the way.
On Wednesday, Tucker got ready to practice just as usual. When linebacker Terrell Suggs walked by and jokingly cursed at the media to get out of the locker room, Tucker stopped his interview and laughed. He’s not dour. He will get right back to telling jokes.
“I’m doing great. I’m me,” Tucker said. “We’re going to treat this week like we treat every week. Do our best to make kicks in practice and bring it to the game on Sunday.”
Asked about whether he can simply forget about the kick, Tucker was realistic.
“I remember kicks from my rookie year that I didn’t like the way they came off my foot. From time to time, that will pop up in the back of my head somewhere,” Tucker said. “I have to embrace it and suppress it at the same time, because it’s not important to what I’m about to do. That will not be pertinent to what’s going to happen on this next kick.”
The Ravens aren’t worried about Tucker because, simply put, he’s the best. Tucker’s 90 percent career field goal percentage (215 of 239) is easily the best of all-time. New England’s Stephen Gostkowski is in second at 87.8 percent.
But there’s a mental part to kicking that is somewhat unique to the position. Tucker has seemingly long been a guy that has thrived on confidence, and this is the first clutch kick he’s missed in his six-plus years. In a way, it’s his first battle with major individual adversity.
While safety Eric Weddle joked that Tucker’s celebrations and goofiness aren’t his cup of tea, he also pointed to Tucker’s work ethic alongside punter/holder Sam Koch and long snapper Morgan Cox as part of the reason why he’ll be just fine.
“He’ll be out there working, just like he does every day – kicking field goals and going through his steps,” Weddle said. “Listen, he’s the one of the least guys we have to worry about doing his job and executing.
“He’s going to win some games for us and do his job like he’s done his whole career. That’s the NFL – it can humble you when you’re at the highest highs and you just have to bounce back like we’ve all done in our career.”
Maybe Tucker has been “humbled” by the game, but he’s still as confident as ever.
“As simply as I can put it, I missed a kick,” Tucker stated. “We’re probably going to make a lot more. In fact, I know we will. I’ll leave it at that.”