Justin Tucker on missed PAT: 'I cost us the game'


Throughout the course of modern sporting history, there have been some memorable, legendary streaks.

UCLA's 88 straight wins in men's basketball. Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak. Justin Tucker's streak of 222 straight made extra points.

The latter ended Sunday in stunning fashion when Tucker -- career extra-point percentage: 100 -- sliced what would have been a game-tying PAT wide right, ending Baltimore's comeback attempt and sucking the air out of M&T Bank Stadium.

"Every kicker, if you play long enough, you're going to have a kick that you want back and tonight was that night for me," Tucker said after the game. "The only thing that we can do is go to work and try to make the best of a bad situation. I appreciate the effort of my teammates, for putting us in the position to extend the game and unfortunately I just wasn't able to put the ball through the uprights.

"More importantly I just wanted to be here. If I was ever going to teach my son or any young person about accountability, I felt like it was really important that I stand up here and answer whatever question you might have."

A few years ago, this wouldn't have been as big of a deal. Extra points used to be kicked from a short distance, with the snap coming from three yards from the goal line. They were all but automatic.

But the NFL changed things in an effort to make the kick more exciting, and it has produced the intended results. As boots across the league struggle with the pressure of a longer kick (a 33-yarder, snapped from the 15), Tucker was the one constant. He'd never missed a PAT in his career. He remained automatic -- until Sunday.

His first miss of his career came at the most inopportune time. Joe Flacco's touchdown pass to John Brown seemed certain to send the game to overtime, or at least give us an exciting Drew Brees Hail Mary attempt. Tucker missing the extra point undercut the excitement and replaced it with shock, and a 24-23 loss.

Tucker, equally as stunned, gave an expression that was instantly memed on social media.

This miss cost Baltimore a shot at overtime, but it was a thrilling contest nonetheless (for more on that, head over to our What We Learned post). Some might argue John Harbaugh should have gone for two, and for the win. He said he considered it, but decided to ride his automatic kicker to overtime. Anyone criticizing Harbaugh for this decision after the fact is wasting everyone's time, and his/her own energy.

It was a weird kick. The ball looked good off Tucker's foot, as it usually does, but then veered right like it hit a jet stream (or like it was my tee shot).

"I felt like when the ball came off my foot, I hit it just how I wanted to," Tucker, who owns a career field goal percentage of 89.95, said. "Don't get me wrong, today was a challenging day kicking the ball in our stadium to the right of our bench. ... But we're here because we make kicks, not only in our stadium but anywhere we go. That's exactly what we're going to do moving forward.

"This one just happened to get away from me. I'll have to look at it, I can't tell you exactly what happened. But at the end of the day, I feel like I cost us the game. Every one of my teammates thus far has told me the opposite and no one play wins or loses a game but that's a tough thing to grapple with when you're the guy in that situation at the end of the game."

Blaming the loss on Tucker is lazy and shortsighted. Baltimore could have converted a fourth down on the possession prior and tacked on three points, or scored a touchdown. Football is a cause-and-effect sport. It just so happened on Sunday, Tucker's cause (his missed kick) effected a loss.