What they're saying about Justin Tucker
Ravens kicker Justin Tucker's game-winning, season-sustaining field goal cleared 61 yards. That's 2,196 in inches, a length reporters, pundits and social media users' words about the feat should have no trouble filling. Since the field goal, the longest in Ravens history and the longest indoors in league history, was Tucker's sixth of the night, itself a Ravens record, here are six media reactions and six Twitter reactions from around the Web.
The last-minute stunner had both fan bases pinching themselves in disbelief. Ravens fans: This has to be a dream. Lions fans: We're just having a nightmare, right? The Detroit Free Press' Mitch Albom compared it to the kind where you're on stage in your underwear.
The Ford Field crowd was thunderous. Your head was truly pounding. Your eardrums felt as if they had been dunked underwater.
But none of it had the slightest effect on Tucker’s kicked football, which rose like a helium balloon and seemed to flip in the air forever, veering right, dropping, dropping — and just crossing the bar inside the upright.
“I saw one of the officials put his hands up,” Tucker later explained. “I would say I was a little bit surprised.”
Good. Ravens lead.
The Motown Miracle drew comparisons to Broncos kicker Matt Prater’s record-breaking 64-yard field goal a week earlier in Denver. That Tucker was on the road and not aided by thin air are among a host of reasons that his boot was better, USA Today's For The Win blog's Nate Scott writes. Chief among them, Scott mentions twice, is that in Tucker's case, the game, and, by extension, the Raven's playoff hopes, was on the line.
This can’t be overstated. Justin Tucker stepped up when his team needed him and drilled a 61-yard kick to give his team a win. Prater’s kick, while totally exciting and fun to root for, was kicked as time expired in the first half of a game the Broncos would win 51-28 over the Titans. He was playing with house money. If he made it, the Broncos had a nice story and a few extra points. If he missed it, no problems for anybody.
Tucker had the weight of the team on his shoulders, and he drilled a 61-yarder with less than a minute remaining to give his team a win. Pay that man the respect he deserves, for hitting the most important and impressive field goal of the season.
Had Tucker missed the 61-yard-attempt, the talk now would be about whether coach John Harbaugh should have gone for the first down on fourth-and-7. But, with the Ravens running a conservative draw the play before, it seems the coaching staff was already leaning toward the field goal try, and, with good reason, ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert says.
We like to think there is a right and wrong answer for every coaching decision in sports. We obsess over black and white, but in the heat of a playoff race, Harbaugh surveyed the gray in between. He put statistics and probability aside and made a judgment based on knowing his players and their potential for maximum performance.
The Ravens hadn't scored a touchdown in the game. The Lions' defense had been getting after Flacco, who took a helmet to the knee in the fourth quarter, and in all reality Tucker was Harbaugh's best offensive weapon.
Ravens fans have seen if before, after watching Matt Stover boot the team to its first Super Bowl title 13 years ago. But, can a kicker really compete to be a team's — especially a winning team's — most valuable player? Yes, says WNST.net's Luke Jones.
The discussion centered around a kicker being a team’s most valuable player is typically absurd when acknowledging how few plays in which he’s actually involved over the course of a game, but it’s impossible to overlook how important Tucker has been for the Ravens as they’ve battled offensive inconsistency all year. Teams never want to settle for field goals in lieu of touchdowns, but a guaranteed three points is wholly valuable with an above-average defense that put forth an exceptional effort against All-Pro wide receiver Calvin Johnson and the high-octane Detroit offense on Monday.
CSN's Clifton Brown seems to agree.
No kicker in the NFL has been more important to his team. John Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell were left open for tons of criticism late in the game before Tucker’s last field goal. On third-and-10 from Detroit’s 45-yard line with 1:20 left, a run was called for Ray Rice, instead of a passing play that could have potentially moved the Ravens closer. Rice only got two yards. That left Harbaugh with the decision either to go for first down on fourth-and-eight, or ask Tucker to kick from 61 yards away. Tucker boomed it and bailed out the Ravens. Harbaugh might want to take Tucker to dinner.
With Tucker's performance coming before a national TV audience on ESPN's Monday Night Football, the former University of Texas standout, for this week, at least, is a household name. It's easy to forget that just two years ago he was a virtual unknown, Ravens Gab's Drew Goldfarb observes.
Who would have thought that when the Ravens signed some undrafted rookie kicker from Texas last offseason that he would turn out to be the team’s MVP for the season? I mean, what second year kicker is given the green light to attempt a 61 yard field goal with season on the line? Harbaugh has all the confidence in the world in Tucker and rightfully so. The former Longhorn has delivered time and time again this season, and tonight was his best performance as a pro.
After Tucker gave them such a thrilling performance, Twitter users, for their part, were anxious to give back.
justin tucker is not paying for a drink tonight, and matt stafford has to buy the whole city of detroit beers for his performance— Adam Dyas (@alldaydyas) December 17, 2013
Does anyone know where Justin Tucker lives? I'm sending him a gift.— Anthony Walters (@Anthony_Walters) December 17, 2013
Just WOW! Justin Tucker @jtuck9 for President, Pope, heck even Santa!— Roswell Encina (@roswellencina) December 17, 2013
I remember when we chose Tucker, the rookie, over Cundiff, the veteran. I was skeptical, I admit; but I'll give props when they're due..— Jo$hito. (@__Joshito) December 17, 2013
Justin Tucker doesn't skip leg day.— Play 60 Kid (@NatePlay60) December 17, 2013
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