The Second Coming Of Matt Stover, Only Better

Published: Dec 17, 2013 22:18pm EST
By JLangley4, Sports Writer for Konsume Sports

Please Note: This article was updated Dec 17, 2013 @ 10:23pm EST


Kickers aren't considered to be football players to many. They can hardly be touched without drawing a flag, and most of the time, don't drastically make-or-break a team. Deep down, though, everyone knows how important a kicker is, and quite frankly, how important it is to be stable at the position.

It is said that the kicker is the most expendable player on the roster as well. While this may be true, it is also bad to feel this way. Why would anyone not want to believe the kicker is so expendable? It's simple. The kicker can make-or-break you at times. When you need to get points out of a drive, you want the right man back there kicking the field goal. The Broncos found that in Matt Prater. He can kick 64-yard field goals in the high altitude of Denver.

In Baltimore, they had Matt Stover for years. He was nicknamed "mr.automatic." While Stover could not regularly kick 50-yarders, the second you put him into range, it was almost a near certainty that points would be on the board. Now, the Ravens have this guy named Justin Tucker. Who is he? Well, he was an undrafted free agent out of Texas who was very good at the University of Texas.

Last season, in the cold weather of Denver during the divisional game against the Broncos, Tucker lined up for a 47-yard field goal to win the game. Just a year before, Billy Cundiff lined up and shanked a 32-yard field goal to send the AFC Championship game into overtime. Tucker nailed it, seemingly with ease. Confidence in the kicker had been restored in Baltimore where the anger over Cundiff had not yet subsided.

In just the second game of the season, Tucker missed two kicks that seemed uncharacteristic. From then on, Tucker would not miss a kick, and that streak still holds strong at 33 straight. He has converted on 33 of his 35 attempts. There were some real challenges along the way as well. He kicked a long kick in the swirling wind against the Bengals. The averages say that he should have missed one by now, and he may miss one soon, but the streak is more impressive as he continues along this season.

With 43 seconds left in the game, John Harbaugh called a timeout instead of allowing his offense to attempt a 4th and 7. He sent his kicker out on the field to attempt a 61-yard field goal to put his team ahead. No one before had made this long of a kick in a dome. The chances were not very high for Tucker to convert this field goal, but Harbaugh had enough confidence to try this feat. Tucker, as he has done all season, nailed the field goal, and the Ravens went on to win the game, 18-16 over the Lions, keeping their division hopes in tact.

Justin Tucker has become nearly automatic kicking field goals. In a day where kickers have been found to be expendable, Tucker is inexpendable, and will be looking at an extension soon.

The best part about Tucker is his confidence and exuberant nature. He sings opera, jokes around and simply has fun. He doesn't put too much pressure on himself, which in turn allows him to relax and enjoy the game. No matter how he does it, he has become automatic. Tucker may soon be as beloved as Matt Stover in Baltimore, and Monday night was the moment the nation realized why.


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