Justin Tucker set a specific goal for himself before his rookie season and again before his sophomore campaign, one that would be difficult for any player to reach, let alone a kicker.
Tucker wants to be perfect.
“I want to make all my kicks,” Tucker said. “Really, all you can do is take it one kick at a time. Last season, I only missed three and this season, I’ve only missed two and there’s a lot of football left to be played. Just like anybody else in this building, I strive to be the best at what I do.”
So for the second straight season, the Ravens kicker won’t be 100 percent. But that doesn’t mean he hasn’t been one of the best in the NFL.
Tucker is tied for fifth in the league with 11 field goals after going 30-for-33 as a rookie. But he did have one misstep this season, going 0-for-2 against Cleveland in Week 2, missing more than one in a game for the first time in his career.
Since then, Tucker has returned to being perfect. He has made all nine of his attempts over the last three games, including a 4-for-4 day Sunday that was crucial to Baltimore’s 26-23 win at Miami.
Tucker said he hasn’t overreacted or changed anything since his rough day against the Browns.
“I haven’t really thought about it like that,” Tucker said. “I’m happy for whatever opportunities I get, but it has been nice to be on a little bit of a roll here and that’s something we’re big about - stacking good days and carrying one success into the next.
“I treat every single game exactly the same before and after. So when we come to Monday meetings after any game, we make a point to look at film and see if there’s something I can do a little bit better. I’m aiming for what most people think is in between two uprights, but I’m aiming for much more specific points and the closer I can get to those, the better my footballs will track later in the season once it gets colder and windier.”
Special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg hasn’t seen much of a change in Tucker, and believes the 23-year-old’s approach could help him have prolonged success.
“After the Cleveland game, I believe I told you at that time that he went back to work, and that’s really what he’s been doing since then,” Rosburg said. “He hits a lot of kicks in practice. He likes to practice, he likes to work on the fine details and fundamentals, and he continues to do that. He’s continuing to polish his craft, and I think he recognizes the fact that kickers in this league can be successful for a long time if they pay attention to those fine points of detail.
“(Kicking consultant) Randy Brown is coaching him on those things, they’re watching tape, they’re paying attention to those things, and I fully expect that Justin will continue to improve during the course of his career, because he does that during practice and after.”