Harbaugh: "Emotional challenge...most teams not able to withstand"
The Ravens play-calling in overtime against the Bengals on Sunday showed exactly how much confidence coach John Harbaugh has in second-year kicker Justin Tucker.
With the ball at the Cincinnati 30, which translated to a potential 47-yard field-goal try with the game on the line, the Ravens were content to run three plays right up the middle.
Tucker has the leg to hit from 60, but with a swirling wind whipping through M&T Bank Stadium, any long kick figured to be an adventure. Still, the Ravens were content to run for 2 yards in three plays -- eliminating any chance of a sack -- and then trot out Tucker to try a potentially dicey, wind-blown 46-yarder.
Tucker nailed it, giving the Ravens a 20-17 win that likely saved their season.
"It was kind of a cross-wind," Tucker said after the game. "We had a plan. The ball wasn't going to move too much. We just figured we'd hit it as close down the middle as possible and give it a shot."
It was the third overtime game-winner of Tucker's career, who last year beat New England on the final play of the game, then beat San Diego and Denver with kicks in overtime. The win at San Diego -- the famous "Hey Diddle Diddle" game -- came after Tucker hit a field goal in the final play of regulation to force overtime.
In terms of his poise under pressure, Tucker, who turns 24 next week, is "special that way," Harbaugh said on Monday.
Tucker missed only three kicks all last season, going 30-for-33, so it was somewhat shocking to see him miss twice against the Browns in Week 2. But since then he has hit 16 in a row.
That might be one reason why, as Tucker trotted onto the field to attempt the game-winner against the Bengals, wide receiver Torrey Smith said he was "relaxing."
"It's Tucker, man," he said after the game. "We're not worried about Tucker missing a kick. ... When the game's on the line, there's no other kicker we want out there besides him."