Ravens kicker Justin Tucker making field goals at historic rate

Ravens kicker Justin Tucker has made 93 of 102 field goals attempts in nearly three NFL seasons.
Ravens kicker Justin Tucker has made 93 of 102 field goals attempts in nearly three NFL seasons. (Jason Miller / Getty Images)

There have been nine misses in all — divided evenly among his three NFL seasons — and Ravens kicker Justin Tucker admits he probably can recount what went wrong on each of them.

In his younger days, he obsessed over an ill-timed wind gust or a slippery landing spot. Now, Tucker is only concerned about the next swing of his right leg and opportunity to do what no kicker has ever done any better.


"I don't even think about what has happened in the past. I don't even think about what happened last weekend to be honest with you," Tucker said after the Ravens finished practice Thursday in preparation for Sunday's game against the Miami Dolphins. "I'm thinking about each practice day, I'm thinking about each kick that I go out there and attempt in our field goal and field goal block period of practice. That's probably as cliched as it gets in sports — taking it one kick at a time. But that's what's been successful, so I'm not going to change it up any time soon."

How successful? When he went 4-for-4 last Sunday in the Ravens' loss to the San Diego Chargers, Tucker solidified his standing as the most accurate kicker in NFL history. In his career, he's made 93-of-102 field-goal tries, and he's hit 59 of his past 60 attempts from under 55 yards.


Matt Stover, who kicked 13 seasons for the Ravens, is the NFL's 15th most accurate kicker all-time, having made 83.7 percent (471 of 563) of attempted field goals in his 19-year career.

Even in an age where kickers are converting from a longer distance and at a more consistent rate, Tucker's 91.2 field-goal percentage is the best among kickers with a minimum of 100 attempts. Dallas Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey (90.2) and former Raven and current Seattle Seahawk Steven Hauschka (86.8) rank second and third all-time.

"No matter what the era is, that's an incredible accomplishment," said Chris Sailer, an acclaimed kicking and punting instructor who has worked with several of the league's top kickers, including Tucker, Bailey, the Minnesota Vikings' Blair Walsh and the New York Jets' Nick Folk.

"You think of how many guys have worked on that skill and to have that distinction, it is beyond impressive. It's comparative to what Peyton Manning is doing as a quarterback. It's comparative to what the great running backs like Emmitt Smith and Walter Payton have done. It's remarkable. I know the percentages (league-wide) are up but to be the very best of that group at this point in time is remarkable."

Tucker, the AFC Special Teams Player of the Month for November, has made 25-of-28 field-goal attempts this season, including 13 in a row. His lone misses this year were from 55, 57 and 64 yards and the 64-yarder was blocked by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Eight kickers have missed fewer than three field goals this season, including the ageless Adam Vinatieri, who is perfect on 25 attempts for the Indianapolis Colts.

Tucker has long looked up to Vintaieri, who has been in the NFL for 19 seasons and is generally considered the most clutch kicker in NFL history. But Tucker, 25, admits that it's one of his goals to be considered the best at what he does.

"If I wasn't trying to have that attached to my name, then what am I doing?," Tucker said. "First and foremost, we're all trying to win and we're all trying to kind of write our legacy as a team. But of course, we all want to write our own legacies as individuals, and of course, it needs to be known that it's within the framework of something bigger."

Signed as an undrafted free agent, Tucker beat out Billy Cundiff in the 2012 training camp and made 30 of 33 field goals during his rookie season, which ended with the Ravens winning Super Bowl XLVII. Tucker was 4-for-4 in the postseason and his 47-yarder in double overtime against the Denver Broncos in the divisional round was one of the biggest kicks in Ravens history.

Tucker, who made the Pro Bowl last year after making 38 of 41 attempts, has seven career game-winning field goals.

"I think Justin is special because he brings a supreme confidence about him," said Sailer, who started working with Tucker when he was in high school. "He really expects to make everything. The guys that you see have long careers, all have that same mentality. It's an expectation of success."

Ravens associate head coach and special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg credited Tucker's success to his preparation, which he says has improved every year.

Tucker is always fine-tuning his technique, but this season, he's focused more on preparing for certain situations, like adjusting to different field and weather conditions, and learning how to compensate for how his body is feeling that day.


"I feel like I've definitely gotten better from my rookie season to my second season to now my third season," Tucker said. "It's a combination of things from improving my technique, grounding myself in certain situations that are new or challenging. I haven't had to overhaul anything really since I've been here. It's just a matter of trying to build upon doing one thing positive one day and carrying it into the next one."

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