By all measures, the Ravens' Justin Tucker enjoyed an extraordinary season in 2016, leading all NFL kickers in field goals made (38), field goal percentage (97.4), and field goals of 50 yards or more (10).
Although the campaign ended more prematurely than Tucker and his teammates hoped, Tucker can now take a load off his mind and take a certain amount of satisfaction in what he accomplished, right?
"Not now," he said Monday. "I'll wait hopefully another 20 years until I do that, until I truly reflect and bask. But in the meantime, there's still work to do."
There's no denying that Tucker forged one of the most significant years for a kicker, and his feats caught the attention of Football Outsiders analyst Aaron Schatz, who gave Tucker a fifth-place vote in ESPN's NFL Most Valuable Player poll. Schatz noted that Tucker was worth 25.4 points more than the average kicker this year.
Tucker used Twitter to thank the person who voted for him, and Schatz told ESPN.com's Jamison Hensley that Tucker's achievements were unprecedented in the 27 years that Football Outsiders has been analyzing NFL games and players.
"The 2016 Ravens aren't even smelling playoff contention without Tucker," Schatz wrote in an email to Hensley. "The thought of a kicker as an MVP candidate seems crazy, but remember that the strongest league-wide narrative in the first half of the season was a rash of kickers missing clutch field goals at the end of games. That was never a problem in Baltimore. Tucker went 38-for-39 this year. He was one New England block away from a perfect season on field goals. He went 10-for-10 from 50 yards or more. He did this despite playing 14 of 16 games outdoors in northern cities."
Perhaps still feeling the sting of the season's end, Tucker said he plans to avoid watching football for a couple weeks as he mulls what he and his teammates could have done differently.
"I think any time you go through a season like we did, you look, and you think of what could have been," he said. "But at the same time, if you know you tried your best and put your best effort out there, then you have no reason not to be proud of what you accomplished and not just on an individual level, but as a team. I think these last two seasons have been trying, they've been tough. But I've also learned a whole lot about myself that I might not have otherwise. So for that, I'm grateful."
Tucker did admit that the NFL playoffs on television might convince him to sit down and watch. Are there any kickers he will root for?
"No," he said. "I want them all to tie."