Justin Tucker was short from 65 yards out in both directions during his pregame kicking routine on Sunday.
But the Baltimore Ravens kicker was just long enough as time expired in the game as he kicked an NFL record 66-yard field to give the Ravens a 19-17 victory over the host Detroit Lions.
Tucker’s field goal barely made it. The kick hit off the crossbar and bounced high before falling through.
“I guess I found something to help that ball go as far as it needed to go,” Tucker said afterward.
Tucker surpassed the 64-yard field goal Matt Prater made in 2013 when he kicked for the Denver Broncos. Prater’s kick came against the Tennessee Titans.
Tucker’s previous long was 61 yards. Coincidentally, that also happened against the Lions in Detroit. On that occasion, it came with 38 seconds left to give the Ravens an 18-16 win on Monday Night Football.
So naturally, Ravens coach John Harbaugh figured a 66-yard boot was possible
“When it went off his foot, I thought it had a chance,” Harbaugh said. “Justin Tucker, he’s the best kicker in NFL history.”
Tucker, a four-time Pro Bowler, trotted out for the kick fully aware it would be a challenge.
“Whenever we’re fortunate enough to have a game-winning field goal opportunity, especially a walk-off, I get more nervous after the fact thinking about what if that didn’t go the way we wanted it to go,” Tucker said. “I kicked it, tried to get a good picture. As soon as it left my foot, I knew it was going to have a chance but I was short from 65 in pregame both ways. For whatever reason, I couldn’t get the ball to just go.
“Thankfully, we found an extra yard-and-a-half that I didn’t have (about four) hours earlier.”
The Lions feel Tucker should have never had an opportunity to attempt the field goal.
On the preceding play, television replays show that the play clock reached zero approximately two seconds before Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson received the snap and threw an incomplete pass.
But no delay of game penalty was called. If there had been one, any field goal attempt would have been 71 yards.
Referee Scott Novak said in a pool report after the game that he hadn’t reviewed the play and said that back judge Terrence Miles oversaw the play correctly.
“As far as our mechanics, the back judge is looking at the play clock and if it were to hit zero, he sees the zero, and he then looks to see if the ball is being snapped,” Novak said. “If the ball is being snapped, we will let the play go. If it’s not moving, it’s delay of game.”
That description didn’t impress Lions coach Dan Campbell after his team fell to 0-3.
“There’s nothing I can say to that, because it’s the same thing,” Campbell said. “Tomorrow you’ll get an apology and it doesn’t mean anything. That’s life and that’s the hand we were dealt.”
–Field Level Media