Mon, 25 Oct 2021

Justin Tucker Explains How He Hit His Record-Setting Game-Winner

Baltimore Ravens
27 Sep 2021, 23:25 GMT+10

Ryan Mink

Eight years ago, Justin Tucker became a legend in Detroit with a game-winning 61-yard kick. On Sunday, the greatest kicker in league history topped himself - and everyone else.

Tucker drilled a 66-yard field goal as time expired to beat the Lions, 19-17, in Ford Field.

It's the longest field goal in NFL history. Matt Prater held the previous record, hitting at 64-yarder in Denver's thin air in 2013. That was at the end of a first half - not a game-winner.

Tucker's kick hit the crossbar, then spun forward into the back of the net, sending the Ravens sideline into pandemonium. Tucker sprinted down the field before being hoisted up by his teammates.

"It's dejà vu all over again," Tucker said. "I love Detroit. I'm thinking about getting a place here."

Tucker was already the most accurate kicker in NFL history. He's also the most clutch, never missing a field-goal attempt within the final minute of regulation (16-for-16). Now he also holds the record for the longest field goal.

"That's the GOAT," tight end Mark Andrews said.

Baltimore (2-1) was on the verge of a brutal loss, after several missed opportunities to take a commanding lead in the first half. The Ravens were coming off a triumphant win over the Kansas City Chiefs the week before, but all the momentum gained was in danger of being lost.

When the Ravens sent Tucker onto the field for a 66-yarder, they knew everything would have to be perfect for him to hit the kick - the snap, the hold and the kick. That's what linebacker Josh Bynes told Head Coach John Harbaugh and his teammates on the sideline.

Harbaugh is a man of strong faith. Even he couldn't believe a 66-yarder would happen - not even from Tucker. But it could. Harbaugh viewed it as a miracle that has only one explanation.

"Things like that just don't happen," Harbaugh said. "Sometimes, the way God works is He makes it clear to us that there can be no other reason for the things that happen. He is going to tell you that the glory belongs to Him and that's the only place it can go."

So how did Tucker do it? Tucker said he took a different approach on the record field-goal attempt.

In pregame warmups, he was short from 65 yards when trying in both directions. He knew he had to do something a little different. Something he's been experimenting with over the past year is taking an extra step back before long field-goal attempts, just to get a little more distance.

So Tucker reared back, added a little crow-hop, and took his biggest swing at it. He treated it more like a kickoff than a field-goal attempt.

"As I'm becoming more and more a dinosaur in this league at 31 years old, I've got to do every little thing I can to get the ball to go a little farther," Tucker said.

"When you're that far away, there's a level of you have to abandon a certain amount of your technique ... to gain a little power and use the adrenaline and the feeling of the moment to get the ball to go. I hop into it just a little more aggressively."

As soon as the ball left his foot, Tucker said "I knew it was going to have a chance."

"Thankfully, we found an extra yard-and-a-half that I didn't have three hours before and I'm grateful for that," he said.

Tucker had the ball he kicked at his postgame press conference. He had it when the team took to the air after the game. He isn't going to let go of that one for a little while.

But at the end of the day, Tucker said he was most thrilled for the team. He said he felt more nerves talking about the kick - considering only then that it might not go through the uprights - than he did when he was stepping onto the field to attempt it.

"Records, accolades, the individual ones - they're all cool," Tucker said. "But what I will personally take away from this moment is this team that trusts - trusts God, trusts each other."

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