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Tucker Joins an Exclusive Club

Justin Tucker with his arms out looking for a reaction from the crowd.
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Happy Purple Friday, Ravens Flock! I’m happy to be hopping on the Friday Out to Lunch beat to help you get through that last weekday before it’s time for some Ravens football!

After last week’s record-setting, game-winning field goal against the Detroit Lions, Justin Tucker has been named an honorary member of the Madden 99 Club, receiving a temporary ratings boost to 99 in EA Sports’ Madden 22.

Though many players received a 99 rating in previous iterations of the game, the 99 Club was first made official in Madden 19, which was released in 2018. Tucker is the first Raven to join the group’s ranks and the fourth Raven to earn a 99 overall rating, behind Baltimore legends Jonathan Ogden, Ray Lewis and Ed Reed.

Calais Campbell, who had a fantastic game himself in Week 3, thinks the upgrade should be permanent for the most accurate and most powerful kicker in NFL history. But Tucker was already a near-perfect Madden kicker, with 99 kick power and 97 kick accuracy. Since Tucker’s 66-yarder on Sunday, fans have been trying to replicate his feat in the game, with most needing several tries to do it. That’s quietly very impressive, as records are usually easier to beat in Madden than they are in real life.

 

Sure, the Ravens had their lowest-scoring game this season against the Lions, but take away a few drops and they probably reach 30 points for the third game in a row. So it’s a little baffling that NFL coaches want the Lions’ help in stopping Lamar Jackson. Wasn’t he supposed to be figured out by now?

The Lions did slow down the Ravens’ league-leading rushing attack more than any other opponent this season, but that opened up the Ravens’ passing game, with Jackson dropping dimes all over the field. He’s leading the league in yards-per-completion, average intended air yards, and average completed air yards this season. Not bad for a running back.

‘Full-strength’ is an interesting way to describe a team that still has more than a dozen players on injured reserve, with many lost for the season including an All-Pro cornerback and both starting running backs.

The Broncos are 3-0, yet their fans are preemptively using injuries as an excuse for a potential loss in which they’re favored by 1.5 points. Seems like not a lot of confidence in what is actually a pretty good team!

Don’t look now, but a prominent sports blog is actually giving credit to Lamar Jackson as a quarterback! Ravens fans know how talented their superstar is, but even I wasn’t aware of his statistical excellence through his first 1000 passes.

Oh yeah, and Jackson is still getting better, as evidenced by his improved deep ball accuracy this season.

I love bringing this tidbit up every time Burrow makes the headlines, as he did last night after leading the Bengals to a huge comeback win against Trevor Lawrence and the Jaguars.

I don’t mean it as a slight against Burrow, who is starting to live up to his billing as the 2020 No. 1 overall pick. I just like reminding myself a) how young Jackson still is despite being in his fourth year in the NFL and b) how good he is at such a young age.

Jackson did miss his second practice in a row yesterday. I’m sure he’ll still play on Sunday, but losing two days of practice ahead of a matchup with a very talented defense is not ideal. But his absence is notable because he’s been so healthy in his career, even in avoiding the little issues that he’s dealt with the last two weeks.

Speaking of last night’s game, the win gives the Bengals sole possession of first place in the AFC North. A lot of people were expressing surprise at the standings, with the Bengals in first and Steelers in last.

But honestly, didn’t we already know the Steelers were pretenders this season? Ben Roethlisberger looks like one of the old guys from that Snickers commercial

And now that he’s got some weapons and at least a semblance of pass protection, Joey B is the real deal. Plus, an opening slate of Vikings-Bears-Steelers-Jaguars was a perfect was to build a little confidence as their schedule gets tougher.

Finally, following up on yesterday’s Out to Lunch, the Ravens announced their uniforms for tomorrow:

They’ve only worn the purple jersey, white pants combination 12 times in the past, winning nine of those games. Let’s hope they make it 10 on Sunday in Denver.

I hope you had a good lunch (bonus points if you had tacos, my personal favorite), and please enjoy your weekend, ideally with a nice juicy W from the Ravens!

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