Justin Tucker put on a “poised, stoic” face and simply did his job, the Baltimore Ravens kicker said after his long-range, last-gasp field goal earned a stunning win over the Cleveland Browns.
There was no better man for the job, given Tucker’s renowned accuracy, and the 31-year-old came through for his team, breaking the 42-42 tie to seal a 47-42 victory.
From 55 yards, and faced with a tricky wind, Tucker made no mistake. Two seconds remained on the clock.
His moment came after reigning MVP and star team-mate Lamar Jackson, who missed most of the final quarter having exited the field due to cramps, inspired the drive.
The Ravens (8-5) had let their lead slip with Jackson off the field, going from 34-20 ahead to 35-34 down before the nail-biting conclusion.
“The wind was definitely whipping around in there going towards the Dawg Pound end, pretty consistent right to left and of course left to right the other way,” Tucker said.
“I’m not trying to talk about how hard the kick was, to make it seem like it was way sweet or anything.
“But the field was chewed up by that point of the game, so it was about getting studs in the ground with my plant and seeing the ball spotted, which is much easier when you have Morgan Cox throwing it back there and Sam Koch spotting it quickly and efficiently.
“The ball kicks itself when everything is working the way we expect it.
“The ball was trailing right to left pretty significantly throughout the flight path, so I was glad it stayed and we were able to make the play to win the game.”
— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) December 15, 2020
Tucker is the most accurate kicker in the history of the NFL, of all those to have played 20 games or more.
He boasts a 90.9 per cent success rate over his career, making 298 of 328 attempts.
From 50 yards or more, his accuracy dips to 70.5 per cent, landing 43 of 61 shots from such a distance.
The three-time Pro Bowler gave an insight into the mentality of the kicker.
“There’s a lot of emotion, a lot of feeling, that goes into any field goal but especially one that is going to be the difference in the game,” he said in a post-game news conference.
“Your feelings are unimportant. You have to focus on the action of kicking the ball, not the consequence.”
The game was the first in NFL history in which both teams rushed for four-plus touchdowns, per Stats Perform.
Tucker said he felt “way more nervous now after the fact”, having spoken about the moment when the game hinged on him and heard others discuss what it meant.
“What the world saw on Monday Night Football is a Ravens team that played with faith and guts – faith in each other, faith in God and faith in ourselves,” Tucker added.
“I’m a pretty emotional kind of person and wear my emotions on my sleeve, except for when there’s two minutes left in a football game – I don’t have the time or the energy for that.
“I don’t think anybody really needs me to be emotional – they need me to be poised, stoic.
“They’re my team-mates, and everyone in the organisation needs me to do my job in that moment.”