Tucker scored all of Baltimore’s 18 points in the victory over the Detroit Lions, and he has emerged as the Ravens’ most dangerous weapon. There is still work to be done on the offensive side of the ball, but Tucker’s presence (alongside a stout defense) makes Baltimore a team that nobody wants to face in the playoffs.
Tucker became a trending topic on Twitter due to this ridiculous game-winning field goal, which was the longest kick in franchise history:
But if you’ve been watching Baltimore this season, you’ll know that he’s been arguably the most valuable player on the roster.
The former Texas kicker has made 33 field goals in a row, leads the NFL in field goals made (after six makes against the Lions) and is second in points scored. But his impact goes deeper than the gaudy numbers.
Justin Tucker wins games for his club.
The ineptitude of the Ravens offense has been well documented this season. Baltimore ranks 29th in the league in total yardage, 25th in points per game, and the offense has struggled in every regard.
|Yards/Game (Rank)||Points/Game (Rank)||Third Downs Attempted (Rank)||Third-Down Conversion Rate (Rank)||Red-Zone TD Scoring Percentage (Rank)|
|310 (29)||21.1 (25)||224 (1)||37.1% (17)||52.4% (22)|
Despite that abysmal production, the Ravens now find themselves sitting at 8-6 (on a four-game winning streak) with the chance to win the division and in control of their own destiny with two games left on the schedule.
The second-year kicker has a lot to do with that.
Tucker has been responsible for more than half of the Ravens’ points in five games, and he extends Baltimore’s scoring range with his huge leg. The Ravens are in range to put points on the board whenever they hit the 35-yard line since their kicker can comfortably drill 50-yarders with ease.
That’s a welcome change for the Ravens, as their previous kicker—Billy Cundiff—never had that kind of range.
What’s more, Tucker has compiled this impressive season in crazy weather conditions. He played in gusting winds of up to 35 miles per hour in M&T Bank Stadium against the New York Jets. He played in tornado conditions against the Chicago Bears. He still split the uprights whenever he had the opportunity.
Furthermore, Tucker has proven himself in clutch situations, knocking down six game-winners over his career—including three this season—and demonstrating unwavering confidence:
Harbaugh said Tucker told him "he got it." Before sending him out there.— Jeff Zrebiec (@jeffzrebiecsun) December 17, 2013
Having a place-kicker like Tucker on your roster is a huge advantage, and it’s going to make the Ravens a dangerous team if they can continue their form and make the playoffs.
The offense definitely needs to step its game up, but with a stingy defense that is only giving up 18 points per game (excluding the opening-week debacle against the Denver Broncos), Tucker gives the Ravens offense margin for error.
That's a dangerous thing for a team that's peaking at the right time and has a quarterback who can get hot at any time.
No team wants to draw the Baltimore Ravens in the playoffs right now, and no team wants Justin Tucker to be tightening his shoelaces when a game-winning field goal needs to be kicked.
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