The Baltimore Ravens should probably have been given a five-yard penalty for delay of game in their Week 3 victory against the Lions, but that’s not the point here.
Go to one of our Detroit sites if you want to read about bad refereeing.
Today’s topic focuses solely on the man who beat the odds and defied physics to become the unquestioned greatest kicker in league history: Justin Tucker.
Tucker’s 66-yard field goal at the end of Sunday’s game marks the longest ever completed field goal in NFL history, besting Matt Prater’s 64-yarder for the Denver Broncos in 2013.
An even better statistic: Tucker’s kick was the most climactic of the other top long-range efforts.
Prater’s 64-yarder and previous kickers’ 63-yard completions came at the end of first halves in which there was dramatically less in-game pressure. Tucker, on the other hand, stepped onto the field down one point with no time left on the clock and an entire stadium staring down at him.
And he made it.
Although kickers of yore could blame poorly groomed fields and lack of specialty training for their missed attempts, Tucker is still without a doubt the best kicker of this generation, as well as of those before him.
Yes, the league has changed over the decades, but people still believe a player like Tom Brady to be the greatest of all time. Why shouldn’t Tucker be included in the same discussion?
Part of the reason is the glaring difference in positions. Brady is a quarterback. Tucker is a kicker. Brady plays all 60 minutes of the game. Tucker is only brought in when his team needs him to kick.
Baltimore Ravens kicker Justin Tucker should be hailed as the G.O.A.T.
People might call Tucker “only” a kicker, but no one calls Brady “only” a quarterback. There’s still a significant amount of disrespect that’s paid toward the kicker position, but Justin Tucker — like Lamar Jackson in the QB discussion — has been slowly changing the narrative.
Technique, strategy, practice, and poise all go toward becoming a successful kicker, and Tucker has nearly perfected the position.
One record-breaking field goal doesn’t make Tucker the G.O.A.T, but his kicking career does.
Tucker is the most accurate kicker in league history with a 90.6 percent field goal completion rate. He’s also as “clutch” at they come, going 16-for-16 in the final minute of regulation.
Tucker has broken plenty of other Ravens franchise records and NFL records in his career, which are just too many and too detailed to list individually.
Currently, Tucker is listed as seventh on PFR’s Hall of Fame Monitor, which estimates a player’s chances of making the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Morten Andersen and Adam Vinatieri top the list, but aside from Vinatieri, no kicker has played in the “modern era” of football.
Andersen and Jan Stenerud are the only two kickers in the Hall of Fame right now, but Tucker’s career isn’t close to finished yet, and he’s well on track to receiving that coveted gold jacket.
Not only that, but Tucker will likely surpass everybody to earn the distinction of the greatest NFL kicker of all time. There’s even more leg left in him to keep breaking records.
Back in 2017, Tucker told the Ringer’s Kevin Clark: “Here’s the thing. As soon as I tell anyone I can hit from 74, 75, 80, I’m not saying it to blow smoke; I’m saying it because I can do it. I’ve hit from 79 in practice, my best guess is I can hit an 84-yarder.”
We’ll be waiting patiently for that 80-yard attempt. In the meantime, we can re-watch that glorious kick and fateful bounce that cemented Tucker’s place in history.
Decades from now, when people go on YouTube or whatever newfangled video database they have in the future to watch Tucker’s kick, hopefully they’ll still be as awed as we are.
And hopefully, they’ll still consider Justin Tucker as one of the greatest players of all time. “Only” a kicker. Psh.