Something highly unusual happened Sunday involving Ravens kicker Justin Tucker.
He missed a field-goal attempt for the first time in months.
Tucker's 37-yard try sailed wide left during the fourth quarter of the Ravens’ 41-7 loss to the New England Patriots at M&T Bank Stadium, ending the NFL’s longest active streak at 33 consecutive field goals.
This marks the first time that Tucker has missed a kick since misfiring twice during a Sept. 15 home game against the Cleveland Browns.
“Just to put it simply, I missed the ball,” Tucker said after the fourth-longest streak in NFL history was over. “I didn’t hit it. I was kind of struggling with foot-to-ball contact throughout the day on the sideline warming up and before the game. Usually, I can just kind of grind through. At the end of the day, you got to be a little disappointed with the result."
Tucker entered the game having connected on 35 of 37 field-goal attempts.
His streak was the longest in Ravens franchise history since Matt Stover hit 36 field goals in a row during the 2005 and 2006 seasons.
Based on how he reacted to his last errant kicks, Tucker expressed confidence that he’ll move on quickly from this setback and get back to making field goals.
“I’ve got experiences personally I can draw on where I struggled in one game and I had a couple of misses,” Tucker said. “Just like anybody else in here, the focus is on next week, bouncing back and giving ourselves the best chance we can to make a run at this thing and make sure we’re playing football in January.”
Tucker said he wasn’t caught off-guard by being asked to kick a field goal on fourth down in the fourth quarter with the Ravens trailing 20-0.
“No, we’re always prepared to go out there at any point of the game,” Tucker said. “It doesn’t matter. We always commit to the same routine.”
Prone to penalties
The Ravens were penalized nine times for 83 yards, twice more than the Patriots as New England was flagged seven times for 58 yards.
“I’m not even going to address the referees,” strong safety James Ihedigbo said. “That’s for the NFL, for the league to discuss. They hire the refs. They put them in games. What it boils down to is we didn’t play our best football.”
The most costly penalty was a 34-yard pass interference penalty on cornerback Jimmy Smith in the first quarter that led to a short touchdown pass by Tom Brady. Replays clearly showed Smith impeded wide receiver Julian Edelman from running his route. He declined to be interviewed after the game.
“It was tough,” cornerback Corey Graham said. “It seemed like a lot of calls went their way. You still got to go out there and play ball and find a way to make plays. They made more plays than us.”
Concussion feared for A. Jones; other injury updates
Defensive end Arthur Jones left the game with concussion symptoms and didn’t return.
Jones will go through the standard NFL concussion protocol.
Jones also lost to his younger brother, Patriots defensive end Chandler Jones, for the first time after beating him twice last season.
"Despite my brother getting banged up a little bit, it felt good to get a win over him," Chandler Jones said. "We knew it was going to be a tough game."
Middle linebacker Daryl Smith briefly left the game when the back of his leg was stepped on. Smith finished with 11 tackles and split a sack with Courtney Upshaw, giving him five sacks for the season. He leads the Ravens with 118 tackles and 19 pass deflections.
“I just got my Achilles stepped on,” Smith said. “I’m OK.”
Wide receiver Marlon Brown limped off when he landed on his hip, but returned.
“It’s fine,” Brown said. “No big deal. It was a crossing route and I got my hands on it and was able to turn upfield. Trying to make a couple more yards, [safety Steve Gregory] hit me solid and made a good play."
Drought ends for Suggs
Outside linebacker Terrell Suggs sacked Brady, ending a streak of six games without a sack.
Suggs’ last sack before dropping Brady for a six-yard loss Sunday was during a Nov. 3 loss to the Cleveland Browns where he sacked Jason Campbell.
Suggs had no interest in discussing Brady, a frequent verbal foil for the 2011 NFL Defensive Player of the Year.
“I don’t know, you all saw it,” Suggs said. “I was out there playing, so I’m going to have to look at the tape. We just want to get over this quick and move on to Cincinnati.”
Rice, Dumervil were active
Despite a bruised, sprained left ankle that had him listed as questionable, outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil started and recorded one tackle and a pass deflection.
Rice started despite a quadriceps injury and being listed as questionable.
He rushed for just 40 yards on 11 carries and caught two passes for 23 yards.
“They beat us,” Rice said. “They came in here, they outplayed us. It’s simple. We made some mistakes. They came out here, they had a game plan and they executed at a high level.”
Rice got stonewalled on fourth-and-1 at the Patriots’ 4-yard line in the third quarter. The Ravens went 0-for-3 on fourth-down attempts.
“I’m not the play-caller,” Rice said when asked about the short-yardage failures. “That’s not my job to say, ‘Should’ve, would’ve, could’ve.’ One thing I know is we could’ve executed better.
“We’ve got a great quarterback on our sideline, but we have to execute at a high level. Sometimes, you’ve just got to keep that guy [Brady] off of the field. He does a great job of rallying this group.”
Flacco under duress
Flacco was sacked four times and hit seven times.
The development was triggered by his lack of normal mobility resulting from a sprained medial collateral ligament in his left knee and breakdowns in pass protection.
“When they’re getting points put up, you’re not scoring and the game gets late,” offensive tackle Eugene Monroe said. “You can’t give up, you’ve got to keep fighting. It’s a situation I’ve been in plenty of times, and it stinks, but you just have to keep fighting and scratching to put something on the board.”
Limited impact for Pitta
Tight end Dennis Pitta caught four passes for 34 yards in his third game since returning from a hip injury, but his longest reception was 15 yards.
It was a slight increase of his involvement after Pitta caught two passes against the Detroit Lions last Monday night.
“This is football,” Pitta said. “Sometimes, the ball just doesn’t go your way. Sometimes, you make uncharacteristic mistakes and they capitalize on those things and it just got away from us.”
The Ravens scratched cornerback Asa Jackson (hamstring), safety Omar Brown, linebacker Albert McClellan (neck), center Ryan Jensen, wide receiver Deonte Thompson, tight end Dallas Clark and defensive tackle Brandon Williams. … Clark was active for the game against the Lions despite an illness, but he didn't play. He returned to practice this week without incident. He was a healthy scratch against the Minnesota Vikings two games ago. … The Ravens had just four wide receivers active: Torrey Smith (Maryland), Jacoby Jones, Marlon Brown and Tandon Doss. … The Patriots ruled out offensive tackle Nate Solder (concussion), tight end D.J. Williams, linebacker Dane Fletcher, wide receiver Josh Boyce, wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins, defensive tackle Isaac Sopoaga and defensive end Jake Bequette. Pro Bowl left guard Logan Mankins shifted over to left tackle in place of Solder.
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