Kicker Justin Tucker Unfazed By NFL Debut


Justin Tucker showed in the preseason that he could handle the pressure of kicking in a game atmosphere in front of big crowds.

But Monday night was something different.

It was the regular-season opener against a divisional opponent with a national TV audience. The Ravens had driven into Bengals territory on the game's opening drive, but stalled. The coaches then called Tucker's name to come out and attempt a 46-yard field goal for his first official NFL kick.

He drilled it. Just like any other kick. 

"I think the minute you start differentiating between one kick and the next is when you start to run into bumps in the road," Tucker said after the game. "At the end of the day, it's pretty black and white – just make field goals."

Tucker's 46-yard field goal gave the Ravens an early lead of what would eventually become a 44-13 rout of the Cincinnati Bengals. Over the course of the game, he also made kicks of 40 and 39 yards and booted six touchbacks.

"It was a good start, but you've got to be consistent through a whole season, and he's definitely capable of doing that," Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh said.

Tucker earned his way onto the roster thanks to an impressive training camp and preseason, where he beat out former Pro Bowler Billy Cundiff for the job.

He's been under pressure since he first arrived in Baltimore and the key to not getting caught up in the magnitude of each kick, Tucker said, is maintaining the same approach every time he comes onto the field. 

"Just really coming in cool, calm and collected, and just doing my job," Tucker said.

Harbaugh likes that approach, but didn't necessarily agree with description of "cool and calm" to describe Tucker.

"It's funny, on the field with him, he's really not that cool and calm," Harbaugh said. "He doesn't have that kind of a personality. He's got more of a competitive, attacking kind of a mindset. When you get after him, he's all excited. He's fired up about the next kick, and he attacks it."

The key now for Tucker is to take the momentum into next week's game in Philadelphia, where he'll face a hostile crowd of Eagles fans.

"I'll enjoy it [for one night] and obviously there's a couple of things that I would like to improve upon and we'll just keep the ball rolling heading into next week," Tucker said.

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