If a Baltimore Ravens fan doesn’t own a heart defibrillator at by now, they certainly will after a second consecutive heart-stopping finish as Justin Tucker‘s 61-yard field goal and a Matt Elam interception capped off an 18-16 road victory for the visitors.
The Detroit Lions did what they had to do defensively. They bent but didn’t break. However, allowing six scoring drives, despite them all being Tucker field goals, ultimately cost them in this contest.
The second-year kicker’s six field goal performance now puts his total to 35-for-37 on the season and 33 in a row. He is now just three off of the franchise record (36) for consecutive field goals made set by Matt Stover (2005-06). The weapon the former Texas Longhorn has become is somewhat paralleled to what Stover was during Baltimore’s magical first Super Bowl run in 2000.
The Ravens were a team that struggled at the quarterback position — Joe Flacco isn’t an issue for the 2013 Ravens — and relied heavily on their defense to withstand the inability of their offense to matriculate the ball down the field while using Stover as the only viable option for points in most cases. That team felt like a team of destiny much like this one has.
Think about this: over the final 2:05 of the contest against the Minnesota Vikings, the Ravens were able to score three touchdowns. They were held without one in 60 minutes of play against the Lions while their kicker became the first in NFL history to make kicks in the twenties, thirties, forties, fifties and sixties in terms of years during the same game.
It’s crazy to fathom that after all of the struggles the Ravens had endured offensively in finishing drives and converting third downs — 4-for-14 on third downs, just 305 yards of total offense and 0-for-3 in the red zone — that head coach John Harbaugh initially pondered the thought of having his offense decide his team’s fate rather than his superstar kicker.
When faced with the thought of going for the 61-yard game-winning kick, Tucker did what every young, vivacious 20-something does when they know they can get the job done: he exuded confidence, went up to his coach, and said: “I interjected and said, ‘Nah, I got this,’” Tucker said when the opportunity came at his doorstep.
What a weapon he has become. Seemingly every spot on the field after the fifty-yard line has a good chance of splitting the uprights. How many people would believe that he not only went undrafted in 2012 but was also in a kicking competition with Billy Cundiff during the preseason?
Yeah… that Billy Cundiff. The guy who was ran out of Baltimore for missing one of the biggest kicks in franchise history and for losing the battle to a far superior kicker.
Kicking, just like most sports, is about having the mentality. Doing anything in life without confidence causes one to question, slip up and tread cautiously. Any misstep will break a mentally weak person while others rise up and overcome adversity. Tucker’s only two misses of the season came all the way back in Week 2 against the Cleveland Browns at M&T Bank Stadium — the only game where he’s at least attempted one field goal and came up empty as he didn’t attempt a field goal against the Vikings.
What will take a backseat in the discussion of this game but will still remain a topic of conversation is the health of Flacco going forward. After Flacco took low hit to his legs by DeAndre Levy – a questionable non-call considering how much the NFL protects the position — he wasn’t able to plant his feet and step into each throw with accuracy like usual. Flacco said he was fine after the game, but his cool, calm and collective demeanor is something everyone in the Ravens organization and outside it knows all too well.
Baltimore heads into a short week as they face the New England Patriots in six days. The Ravens are now 8-6 (2-5 on the road) and hold the final playoff spot in the AFC by virtue of a head-to-head win over the Miami Dolphins. With the win, Baltimore also finds themselves a game out of first place in the AFC North behind the Cincinnati Bengals.