The Ravens will be represented by kicker Justin Tucker, linebacker Terrell Suggs, guard Marshal Yanda and nose tackle Haloti Ngata at this year's Pro Bowl, which will be held Jan. 26 in Honolulu, Hawaii.
This year's Pro Bowl won't pit the AFC against the NFC, but shifts to a fantasy draft format, so it's possible they won't be teammates in the NFL's All-Star game. Each roster consists of 43 players per squad. The kick return specialist has been eliminated and replaced by an additional defensive back.
The contingent of four is the smallest sent by Baltimore since the team had the same number selected in 2009. Six Ravens were selected last year and eight were named Pro Bowlers in 2011.
Tucker has been selected to his first Pro Bowl while Suggs earned his sixth invite, Ngata his fifth and Yanda his third. Fullback Vonta Leach was named a first alternate.
Tucker is in his second NFL season, and has tied Matt Stover's single-season Ravens record with 35 field goals. His 35 makes and 38 attempts this year are also league highs entering Week 17. Tucker (131 points) needs just five points against the Bengals to set a Ravens single-season record, which would break Stover's mark of 135 from 2000. Tucker ranks sixth in the league in scoring entering the season's final week, while his 92.1 field goal percentage ranks seventh.
Tucker was 6-for-6 on Dec. 16 at Detroit, converting a franchise-record 61-yard game-winner. It marked the sixth game-winner of his career (five regular season and one playoff). The six field goals at Detroit set a single-game team record and are the most in an NFL game this season. In that win, Tucker became the first NFL kicker ever to connect from the 20-, 30-, 40-, 50- and 60-yard range in a game.
"What an incredible honor it is to be recognized like this by the players, coaches and fans of the NFL," Tucker said in a statement. "I am truly blessed to represent such a world-class organization, the Baltimore Ravens, and all of our fans who make up Ravens Nation. I will forever be thankful to the Ravens for giving me a chance to come in and compete for a job after going undrafted last year.
"My gratitude extends to so many who have aided me on this journey, especially John Harbaugh, Jerry Rosburg, Randy Brown, Morgan Cox, Sam Koch and all my teammates. I am truly blessed and very thankful for this."
Suggs is tied for 14th in the NFL with a team-high 10 sacks, marking his fifth 10-sack season. In Week 5 at Miami, the 11-year veteran tied a franchise record by notching a sack in his fifth consecutive contest. Suggs also has 79 tackles and one fumble recovery this season.
"This is awesome, and I have to thank God for blessing me again," Suggs said in a statement. "I also have to thank the most amazing fans in the world for voting. I can't thank them enough. I also want thank coach Harbaugh and my teammates for the constant push, and I must give a special credit to coach (Ted) Monachino for the outstanding coaching. But most of all, I have to thank my brother, Haloti Ngata, for being a great teammate and an even better friend."
Ngata joins Suggs in Hawaii again after racking up 46 tackles, 1.5 sacks and three passes defensed in 14 games. The eight-year veteran has helped lead the NFL's ninth-ranked defense, which also ranks ninth at stopping the run. Since Ngata entered the NFL in 2006, the Ravens have permitted the league's third-fewest rushing yards per game (92.9).
"I've been blessed with so much, and I'm very thankful to be recognized as one of the NFL's top players," Ngata said in a statement. "I'm also thankful for my teammates and coaches who have helped me get there. But more than anything, I want to thank my wife and kids, who make my life easier off the football field by being so supportive."
Yanda, a seven-year veteran, has helped protect quarterback Joe Flacco, who has set single-season franchise records in passing attempts (564) and completions (332), and is 98 yards shy of setting a career high in passing yards (currently has 3,720). It is somewhat surprising the Ravens had a member of their offensive line selected because of the team's struggles running the ball. But Yanda's track record certainly helped him.
It's hard to argue with Suggs, Ngata or Tucker. But linebacker Daryl Smith and cornerback Jimmy Smith both deserved consideration after playing key roles in the defense's stellar performance this season.