Ravens coach John Harbaugh said the wind Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium factored into kicker Justin Tucker’s crucial missed extra-point attempt in their 24-23 loss to the New Orleans Saints, but that “at the end of the day, it’s a missed kick.”
In his weekly news conference Monday, Harbaugh acknowledged that the installation of four new video boards in the “corner notches” on the stadium’s upper level have affected wind patterns. Punter Sam Koch said Sunday that the wind “swirls a little bit more and, I think, a little stronger than it has in the past.” At nearby Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, winds as strong as 14 mph were recorded less than a half-hour before Tucker’s last-minute, would-be game-tying kick.
But Harbaugh did not blame the first missed extra-point attempt of Tucker’s college and NFL careers on Mother Nature.
“The wind was definitely part of it,” Harbaugh said. “But it’s a missed kick. You can talk to Tuck about it if you want. You’re not going to understand what he’s talking about anyway. At the end of the day, it’s a missed kick, and we have all the confidence in the world in Tuck. We love him. He’s going to go to work hard, he’s going to come back; his confidence is not going to be shook at all.”
Harbaugh said it’s difficult to simulate wind conditions in the week of practice before a game. But Tucker, as all kickers and punters do, practiced on the field before the game Sunday, when the wind was gusting stronger than it was during the decisive final minute of the game.
“If you’re going to start questioning Tuck, the best kicker in football, his process and work ethic, I guarantee you nobody works harder at it than those guys work at it,” Harbaugh said. “If anybody’s concerned about that, they shouldn’t be.”
Harbaugh also said the decision to have Tucker kick the extra-point attempt instead of going for the 2-point conversion was “a clear choice,” one decided on before the game. He considered not sending Tucker onto the field after Ravens wide receiver John Brown’s touchdown catch with 24 seconds left — “Your gut sometimes talks to you” — but that he ultimately preferred to try to force overtime.
“The numbers say to put it in overtime,” he said. “That’s what the analytics say.”