Bayless Calls Tucker 'Most Spectacular Weapon' In NFL
When you can make a believer out of Skip Bayless, you know something special is happening.
The ESPN talking head has boiled Ravens fans' blood in the past with his harsh criticism of their team, and especially quarterback "Joe Fluke-o," as Bayless likes to call him.
But after Monday night's gutsy 18-16 victory in the Lions' den, Bayless couldn't stop heaping praise upon the Ravens, saying they're on a Super Bowl run, John Harbaugh is a top-five coach and Justin Tucker is … say what, now?
"We're talking about the most spectacular weapon in football," Bayless said of Tucker.
To say that's a bold declaration would be an understatement, considering all the "spectacular weapons" in the NFL, including Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Calvin Johnson, A.J. Green, Jamaal Charles, Josh Gordon, etc.
However, kickers always dominate the NFL leaderboard in scoring (Charles is the only non-kicker to crack the top 20), making them perhaps the most impactful players on the outcome of the game. And Tucker is among the best at the position, tied for second place in scoring.
"I always rail against kicking because it counts so much, it has such a heavy impact on the scoreboard," Bayless said. "But when you have a kid who is automatic from everywhere out to 65 yards – automatic, money, as you say, what a weapon that is."
He continued: "He's a good kid, smart kid, a kid they can trust. When you can win a game with six field goals on the road, it just shows you can trust your kicker as your biggest weapon."
Bayless also admitted he is having "nightmarish flashbacks" to last season when the Ravens suddenly caught fire after the return of injured linebacker Ray Lewis and went on to win the Super Bowl.
After winning four straight games this season – all tight, physical battles – Bayless thinks opponents better watch out, including the New England Patriots and Denver Broncos.
Before the season, Bayless said he didn't think the Ravens would make the playoffs because of so much roster turnover.
"I fear – here come the Ravens," Bayless said.
"This team is starting to look like a real football team, like a real threat, like a team that could give New England or Denver all it wants in a postseason game. I'm starting to think the Ravens are getting on a Super Bowl roll. I'm not picking them to win the Super Bowl, I'm just saying all the ingredients are there, starting with that little kicker."
Another major ingredient? John Harbaugh.
"Isn't he a top five coach now?" Bayless asked. "I mean come on. Can we anoint him?"
"Easily," co-host Stephen A. Smith replied. "John Harbaugh has proven to be a top-five coach in this game, no doubt about it."
Bayless is an unabashed fan of the Patriots, and he fears for his team as it prepares to visit M&T Bank Stadium Sunday.
"They are in trouble going to Baltimore," Bayless said. "I'm looking at a big L on Sunday."
To watch the full segment, check out the video below (mobile users tap "View in Browser" at the top of the page)
Aaron Rodgers Thanks Tucker
When Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers sat down for his weekly radio show Tuesday, his very first words were directed at Tucker.
The kicker's game-winning 61-yard field goal over the Lions kept their NFC North rival Packers in the hunt to make the playoffs.
"I'd like to thank Justin Tucker off the top here for his performance last night," Rodgers said on his ESPN Milwaukee radio show. "Unbelievable. That 61-yarder was amazing. I didn't quite get the three previous plays, but wow."
The Ravens' win also moved the Chicago Bears to the top spot in NFC North, and Bears players were tweeting praise to Tucker after the game, including a few below:
Yeeaaahhhhh!!!!!! — Lance Briggs (@LanceBriggs) December 17, 2013
Does anyone know where Justin Tucker lives? I'm sending him a gift. — Anthony Walters (@Anthony_Walters) December 17, 2013
Omg!!!!! What a leg!!! — Tim Jennings (@HennOrJenn26) December 17, 2013
And our Baltimore Ravens twitter account replied …
No MRI For Flacco's Knee, But Will Take It Easy
Here's another encouraging sign for Flacco.
He will not undergo an MRI, according to ESPN's Ed Werder, after his knee "caved in" on an awkward hard hit by the helmet of Lions linebacker DeAndre Levy Sunday.
After the game, Flacco said he felt "fine" and "strong," but walked with a limp. The injury is not serious enough, however, to even merit the MRI.
While the outlook looks good for Flacco, he will "take it easy" for a few days, according to Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com.
"It's unclear whether this means Flacco will skip practice or be limited in any of the practices preceding Sunday's game against the Patriots," Florio wrote.
Levy was not flagged for his hit on Flacco, which was a classic example of the Brady rule, but Florio advocated for the linebacker to be fined.
"While it was unclear whether Lions linebacker DeAndre Levy deliberately went low on Flacco or was blocked to the ground, Levy struck Flacco in the leg with Levy's helmet," Florio wrote. "Under the rules applicable to passers in the pocket, Levy's hit should have drawn a flag — and it should draw a fine."
Best To Worst PFF Grades
Below are the offensive and defensive grades for the Ravens-Lions game, according to Pro Football Focus.
|Name||Snap Count||Rating||Name||Snap Count||Rating|
|Michael Oher||66||2.0||Haloti Ngata||39||4.9|
|Joe Flacco||66||2.0||Lardarius Webb||67||3.2|
|Jacoby Jones||56||1.3||Elvis Dumervil||34||2.0|
|Eugene Monroe||66||0.5||Arthur Jones||32||1.8|
|Vonta Leach||3||0.5||Corey Graham||58||1.2|
|Torrey Smith||66||0.2||Pernell McPhee||24||0.3|
|Marlon Brown||65||0.2||Jameel McClain||44||0.0|
|Marshal Yanda||66||0.1||DeAngelo Tyson||11||-0.2|
|Ricky Wagner||1||0.0||Jimmy Smith||67||-0.3|
|Tandon Doss||8||-0.1||Matt Elam||67||-0.5|
|Dennis Pitta||30||-0.5||Josh Bynes||11||-0.6|
|Ray Rice||48||-0.6||Chris Canty||31||-0.1|
|Bernard Pierce||17||-0.9||Arthur Brown||12||-0.1|
|Ed Dickson||36||-1.1||Courtney Upshaw||43||-1.5|
|Gino Gradkowski||66||-2.3||James Ihedigbo||67||-2.0|
|A.Q. Shipley||66||-2.4||Terrence Cody||15||-2.4|
- "You can criticize Joe Flacco for his increased interceptions. You can rip him for his inconsistency. What can never be questioned is the toughness of the Baltimore Ravens quarterback," wrote ESPN's Jamison Hensley.
- A federal appeals court ruled that the NFL and the Ravens can use their old "flying B" logo to depict the team's history. [The Baltimore Sun]
- Running Back Ray Rice's small third-down gain proved to be big after Justin Tucker's game-winner. "When running back Ray Rice plunged into the middle of the line on third-and-10 for a gain of 2 yards just before Tucker's dramatic boot, it didn't seem particularly significant," wrote Aaron Wilson. "But given that kicker Justin Tucker's kick narrowly cleared the crossbar by a few yards, every bit of Rice's yardage was necessary." [The Baltimore Sun]
- Both the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens are getting hot as the playoffs draw near, but which of last year's Super Bowl participants is scarier for an opponent? [NFL Network]