Five Things We Learned from the Ravens' 22-20 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers
Childs Walker delivers all the fixings he took home from the Ravens' Thanksgiving night victory over the rival Steelers at M&T Bank Stadium.
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4. Watching Justin Tucker has become one of the true pleasures in Baltimore sports( Patrick Smith, Getty Images / November 29, 2013 )
It's almost hard to believe that 16 months ago Tucker was just a rookie free agent brought in to challenge incumbent Billy Cundiff for the kicking job.
Tucker made his bones with a near-perfect debut season. And we haven't talked about him a ton this year, because his excellence, both on kickoffs and field goals, has become a given.
But with his streak of made field goals now at 27, it's worth stepping back to appreciate him. He's a likeable guy -- smart, comfortable in his own skin, dedicated to his craft. The exuberance he's always shown in the locker room is now routinely manifest on the field. You can see him becoming a greater fan favorite week after week.
NFL kickers are so efficient as a group that it's hard for even a really good one to separate himself. But Tucker's accuracy from 40-plus yards and his powerful kick-offs (though he did shank one out of bounce against the Steelers) give the Ravens a small, yet real advantage over the course of a season.
The Ravens pride themselves on aggressively pushing rookie free agents into key roles. Tucker is one of the great success stories from that tradition.