Justin Tucker is the most accurate kicker in NFL history, but he went 0-for-2 on rule changes this year.
League owners approved a proposal prohibiting teams from leaping over long snappers to block a field-goal or extra-point attempts. They also shot down a proposal that would have rewarded Tucker's big leg on kickoffs.
The banning on the "leaper" block may be a good thing moving forward, but it has to feel like a punch in the gut to Tucker right now.
That's because Tucker would have had a perfect season last year had that rule been in effect then. His only miss came against the New England Patriots when linebacker Shea McClellin perfectly timed his leap over long snapper Morgan Cox to block Tucker's 34-yard field- goal attempt.
Tucker finished the year 38-for-39 and made all 27 of his extra points. If that kick hadn't been swatted, assuming that it went through the uprights, it would have made Tucker just the fourth kicker in NFL history to make every kick in a season.
The others were the Minnesota Vikings' Gary Anderson (35 attempts, 1998), St. Louis Rams' Jeff Wilkins (17 attempts, 2000) and Indianapolis Colts' Mike Vanderjagt (37 attempts, 2003). None had as many attempts as Tucker, who also tied the single-season record for field goals of 50 yards or longer.
On Tuesday, Head Coach John Harbaugh said he didn't have a strong opinion on whether to ban the leaping block. It's a player safety issue, though Harbaugh felt it would be phased out anyway because teams will defend it better.
Tucker, however, clearly wasn't pleased with the rule change coming late.
The other blow to Tucker is the league also rejecting the proposed rule change to reward his long kickoffs. The Philadelphia Eagles proposed the rule that would start offenses at the 20-yard line instead of the 25 if the opposing kicker sent the kickoff through the uprights. It would allow Tucker to help the defense with starting field position.
"It adds excitement to the play," Harbaugh said before the rule changes were announced. "We've taken a lot of kickoff returns out of the game. We have a touchdown, an extra point, a commercial, a touchback and a commercial. That's not good. Anything we can do to make it a little more interesting."
Harbaugh and the Ravens have even argued that the kicking team should be awarded one point for booming kicks through the uprights, though they didn't officially propose that change. Harbaugh tossed out an idea Tuesday that would allow teams to have a player in the end zone to try to swat away kicks to prevent them from going through the uprights.
"Now, people are going to say, 'Well, that's just because of Justin Tucker,'" Harbaugh joked. "Yes. It's also because everybody will be watching that kickoff."
In another hit to Baltimore's special teams unit, the trick play used to help win Super Bowl XLVII and a regular-season game against the Cincinnati Bengals last season will also now be illegal. The Ravens intentionally held their opponents in an effort to milk precious seconds off the game clock.
The league passed the rule change stating that it would be unsportsmanlike conduct to commit multiple fouls during the same down designed to manipulate the game clock. The clock would return to the time when the ball was snapped.
Here are the other six playing [rule proposals that were approved](
"Read now") by league owners:
- By Competition Committee; Makes permanent the rule that disqualifies a player who is penalized twice in one game for certain types of unsportsmanlike conduct fouls.
- By Competition Committee; Changes the spot of the next snap after a touchback resulting from a free kick to the 25-yard line for one year only.
- By Competition Committee; Gives a receiver running a pass route defenseless player protection.
- By Competition Committee; Makes crackback blocks prohibited by a backfield player who is in motion, even if he is not more than 2 yards outside the tackle when the ball is snapped.
- By Competition Committee; Replaces the sideline replay monitor with a hand-held device and authorizes designated members of the NFL officiating department to make the final decision on replay reviews.
- By Competition Committee; Makes actions to conserve time illegal after the two-minute warning of either half.
The bylaw proposal submitted by the Washington Redskins that would allow teams to opt out of wearing their Thursday Night Football "color rush" jerseys was rejected. Harbaugh wouldn't opt out anyway, saying Tuesday that he liked the Ravens' all-purple with gold numbers look from last season.