Every snap, hold and kick is different, just like every weather pattern is different, so Justin Tucker was not interested in ranking the most difficult places he’s had to kick in his NFL career.
But after missing two field-goal attempts in Saturday night’s season-ending 17-3 loss to the Buffalo Bills, the most accurate kicker in NFL history acknowledged that even he could not tell where the ball would end up inside Bills Stadium. And that’s almost never been the case.
“I think it was quite apparent that it was difficult to get the ball to go where you wanted it to go, kicking or throwing the ball,” Tucker said Sunday, back home after a 1-for-3 night amid swirling winds in Orchard Park, New York. “Anytime you’re putting the ball up in the air and subjecting it to the wind when it’s that significant, it’s simply just going to have an effect. And sometimes you don’t know what that effect will be.”
The Ravens and Bills avoided snowfall in their AFC divsional-round matchup, but the wind was a constant irritant, with speeds ranging from 14 mph to 21 mph and some gusts up to 26 mph, according to Weather Underground.
Tucker, ever meticulous in his pregame preparation, tried to understand how the ball would track as he tested his range before kickoff. But “it was just a really tough wind to figure out,” he said. In the first quarter, he attempted a 41-yard field goal from the left hashmark. In the second quarter, he attempted a 46-yarder, also from the left hashmark.
“When the ball leaves my foot, typically, I know in that instant whether or not the kick is going to be good,” he said. He added: “I felt like the ball came off my foot really, really well.” But his first kick slammed off the left upright, and the second off the right upright.
“The ball just didn’t go through,” said Tucker, who missed consecutive field-goal attempts for the first time since 2018. “And at the end of the day, ‘almost’ doesn’t cut it. Putting points on the board is important. And failing to do so certainly had an impact on the game, early on last night.”
Buffalo kicker Tyler Bass also missed a 44-yard field goal, but by then, the Ravens trailed 17-3. After a game in which points were at a premium — just one offensive touchdown, just two field goals total — Tucker called his performance “disappointing.”
“What’s important is finding a way to put the ball through the posts, regardless of the difficulty of the conditions that we’re facing,” Tucker said. “I’ve said this before, but accountability is key. And at the end of the day, my job is to make the kick, no matter what the circumstance. And I just didn’t do that last night.”