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Kicker Justin Tucker Chasing Perfection Again


In Ravens kicker Justin Tucker's first season, he won a Super Bowl ring. In just his second season, he went to the Pro Bowl.

So what can he do for an encore?

Perfection – that's the challenge Tucker is taking on again.

"Just like I said before the beginning of the season last year, I'm going to try to make all my kicks," said Tucker, who was surprised his comments made so many headlines.

"What else am I doing out here? I'm not out here thinking it's okay to miss. No one has the mindset that it's okay to have a great season. It's not okay. We want to have an awesome season. There's a difference."

Tucker remembers the three kicks that he left on the field last season. He went 38-for-41 on his attempts. Splitting the uprights 38 times was tied for the NFL lead with New England's Stephen Gostkowski. Tucker's 92.7 success rate was tied for sixth, also with Gostkowski.

It placed Tucker among the best kickers in the league, but he can't grow complacent. It's not easy to maintain such a high level of play in the NFL, let alone improve upon it.

"I think the thing we all recognize is that when you're a professional, the journey never stops. You don't ever arrive," Special Teams Coordinator Jerry Rosburg said. "You're continuing to try to improve all aspects of your game. Justin has been doing that."

Tucker was reminded of a saying former Texas Head Coach Mack Brown used to impart on the team: You have to be consistently good to be great.

"This has been a [Ravens] program that has been consistently good, aside from last season when we were at .500," Tucker said. "To get to that next level, to be a legend or to be awesome, you have to be consistently great. I think that's what we're all trying to do out here."

Tucker frequently kicks into skinny goal posts during practice, making attempts more difficult by narrowing the margin for error.

Sometimes when he lines up for attempts at M&T Bank Stadium, the aiming point will be so precise that it's the left side of a letter on the scoreboard – or basically a square inch.

"You aim small, you miss small," he said.

Tucker feels he most improved at kicking in tough situations and environments during his second year. He kicked in a terrible storm, the fringes of tornados, in Chicago. He kicked in stronger wind at home against the Jets. He kicked in snow against the Vikings.

Tucker's finest moment came when he nailed a 61-yard game-winning field goal in Detroit, sealing a win the Ravens desperately needed as they tried to scratch their way into the playoffs.

Baltimore did not reach the postseason, however. Tucker went to the Pro Bowl in Hawaii, but doesn't want to go back.

"The idea is that you want to get that invite, but you can't take it because you're playing in the Super Bowl," Tucker said.

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