Justin Tucker knew he'd be able to kick a long field goal if necessary during Saturday's game in Denver. After all, the rookie drilled a 67-yarder in warm-ups for the AFC Divisional match-up with the Broncos.
Long and timely kicks have been Tucker's calling card during his first pro season. He came through once more when the Ravens needed it by making a 47-yard field goal early in the second overtime to give the Ravens a wild 38-35 victory over Denver.
Tucker beat out Billy Cundiff for the regular kicking job in training. Cundiff made the Pro Bowl in 2010 but struggled last year and his miss of a late field goal against New England in the AFC title game cost the Ravens a chance to push that contest into overtime.
Tucker had no problem with this kick, drilling the 47-yarder to give the Ravens the come-from-behind win.
This season, Tucker looked nothing like a rookie. He made 30 of 33 kicks in the regular season and went 1-for-1 in last week's win over the Colts in the Wild Card playoff game. In addition, he remained solid on kickoffs throughout the season, routinely blasting the ball through the end zone and helping the defense.
"I always feel good about going out on to the field," Tucker said. "Not a lot of people get to do this. It's a heck of a lot of fun."
He enjoyed himself once more with the game-winning kick. The Ravens had regained possession when Corey Graham made his second interception of the game late in the first overtime. Two plays later, that period ended, and Tucker ran out on to the field during the break to get a kick and test the field.
"Usually at the change of quarter, you don't see people running out there and kicking a ball," Tucker said. "But we figured, no one's told us not to do it before. I'm glad we did. It's different kicking on the sideline where the grass is green and plus and it's all good."
The win extended Ray Lewis' career one more week, and the Ravens could need Tucker to come through again in next week's AFC title game in Houston or New England.