Just because you're an opera-singing kicker doesn't mean you're soft.
You know who may have taken the most bone-rattling hit in the storied physical tilt between the Ravens and Steelers?
Kicker Justin Tucker.
Tucker continues to dispel the notion that kickers are a bunch of football sissies – well at least he isn't. He never proved that more than Sunday night in Pittsburgh.
Tucker, who is 6-foot-0, 180 pounds, took a crushing helmet-to-helmet hit from 6-foot-2, 231-pound linebacker Stevenson Sylvestor while trying to recover his own onside kick.
Watching the replay, Sylvestor wasn't even going for the ball. His intention was to simply mash Tucker to try to pop the ball loose. Sylvestor admitted as much after the game. When told he'd nearly killed the kicker, the Steelers linebacker replied, "I tried to."
Considering I'm about the same size as Tucker, I can't imagine what that hit felt like.
What's crazy is that Tucker – instead of lying on the field like a pile of goo – popped back up and dove to try to recover the loose ball. He didn't get it, but just having the toughness to shake off that hit is incredible.
Tucker suffered a bloodied left ear that required attention from the Ravens team doctor on the sideline. Looking at it up close in the locker room afterwards, the ear was pretty gnarly. Tucker said he didn't get any stitches, but said doctors "glued" a flap of skin back on his ear.
"Turns out kickers are football players too and we take hits, and sometimes we give them out," Tucker said. "It is what it is. I got a little bit of blood on my uniform, and that's not too uncommon when you're playing [in] the AFC North."
This isn't the first time Tucker has sacrificed his body to try to make a play. And the Ravens keep going back to him because of his athleticism and toughness.
Remember the fake field goal in the Super Bowl? It was the first fake field goal in Super Bowl history for a reason.
Tucker caught a direct snap and jetted up the sidelines on 4th-and-9. He sidestepped 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis, but was hammered out of bounds by a trailing 49er just short of the first down.
Tucker's never shied away from contact. During his senior year at the University of Texas, he finished tied for the team lead with eight special teams tackles, including four solo stops.
So yeah, Tucker is one tough dude.