Where would the Ravens have been without the solid kicking effort of place kicker Justin Tucker this season?
Through all the ups and downs of 2016, which included a struggling offense and a defense that again couldn’t protect late leads, Tucker quietly went to work providing points when neither side of the ball was able to.
“Justin has had a great season,” Jerry Rosburg said following practice on Thursday. “It is not only his volume of work, it is the kicks he has made in circumstances and yardage. He has had a lot of long range kicks, a lot of wind and things to deal with in the stadiums we have played in.
“He has been spot-on; he has been excellent. His mates, Morgan [Cox] and Sam [Koch], have a lot to do with that. They practice so well together, they work so well together, and they push each other. It has been a great season for those three guys.”
Tucker, who was voted most valuable Raven by the local media, is just one 50+ yard field goal shy of setting an NFL single-season record. His ten kicks from 50 yards and beyond this season is tied for the most in NFL history.
“He has always had leg strength,” Rosburg said about Tucker, who struggled last season in converting field goals from 50+ yards. “I went to watch him at the University of Texas for the first time, and the one thing that stood out to me was the speed of his leg.
“We all know his personality. He likes being on stage; he likes the moment. He revels in that. It has been said many times about him. Fundamentally, now, I think he is really in a good place fundamentally. He has evolved over the years. He is not exactly the same kicker he was in 2012, and he has gotten better through the coaching of [kicking consultant] Randy Brown and his hard work. He is in a really good place right now.
“He is going to be good for a long time.”
While it may be a dubious honor for a kicker to be so valued, Tucker appreciates the recognition for the hard work he has put in throughout his career, particularly the 2016 season. The former undrafted kicker from the University of Texas is two field goals away from setting a Ravens single-season record (which would break his current mark of 38 in 2013.)
More impressive? The opera-singing, Dr. Pepper-drinking Tucker needs three more field goals to become just the third kicker in NFL history to reach 40 FGs in a season.
Tucker has yet to miss a field goal this season that’s he’s actually gotten off. His two statistical misses were due to a blocked field goal attempt and a errant snap from long snapper Morgan Cox.
“I’d like to say to you guys, thank you,” responded Tucker on being named the Ravens media MVP. “We appreciate the work that you guys put in. I can tell you, I appreciate all of your integrity in writing the truth and putting a story out there that is usually one that needs to be told.
“You guys do a great job of that. Thank you for that. Thanks, again, for that awesome introduction [from Joe Platania]. I, obviously, wouldn’t be able to do any of the stuff I do on the football field without Morgan Cox, Sam Koch, Randy Brown, Jerry Rosburg and all of the rest of my coaches and teammates.
“We have a great group around here, and I can’t brag on them enough. To be able to turn our hard work into accolades is very cool, but at the same time, we know still have work to do. I think it will start here with a win in Cincinnati, and it will continue with hard work in the offseason.
“Hopefully, we’ll be able to turn things around and have a postseason run very, very soon. Again, thank you. You guys are awesome, and I appreciate you.”
Tucker is the one who deserves the appreciation. While the media may write about the essence of the Ravens kicker, without his actual performance this season, there is no way the team would have won as many games as they have heading into the final week of their season.
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