Justin Tucker's unthinkable miss means no kickers are safe

BALTIMORE -- Justin Tucker missing an extra point is unthinkable and unimaginable.

What the football world learned Sunday is no kicker is immune in 2018 -- not even the surest leg in NFL history.

Tucker's point-after try that sailed wide right in the final seconds of the Baltimore Ravens' 24-23 loss to the New Orleans Saints continued a nightmarish season for kickers.

There have been 94 missed kicks this season, which ties for the most through Week 7 over the last 25 years, according to ESPN Stats & Information. The only season that had this many misses was 2016.

"I felt like I hit it well," Tucker said. "But, at the end of the day, the ball just didn’t go through, and that’s all it needs to do to keep the game going."

How unlikely was Tucker's miss? He had made all of his previous 222 point-after attempts, and he was the only kicker who hadn't missed with at least 200 career extra points.

On Sunday, a 14-mile per hour wind around the time of the kick and the even more unpredictable wind patterns created by the new video boards in the corners of M&T Bank Stadium played havoc with Tucker's extra point, which would've tied the Saints at 24 with 24 seconds remaining in regulation.

In many ways, the end of Tucker's perfect run makes perfect sense this year. Green Bay's Mason Crosby, who holds the NFL postseason record for most consecutive field goals made with 23, missed five kicks (four field goals and one point-after) on Oct. 7. Carolina's Graham Gano, who tied the NFL record with a 63-yard game-winning field goal on Oct. 7, has missed an extra point in each of his two games after that.

"I’ll just say we’ve got all the confidence in the world in Justin," guard Marshal Yanda. "We’re not even worried about it. It is what it is. It happened. I can tell you right now that I have 100 percent confidence in Justin. He’s our guy, and he’s made a ton of kicks for us, and I’m not worried [one] bit about [him]."

Tucker is the most accurate field-goal kicker in NFL history, converting 89.9 percent of his tries (215-of-239). He has the most field goals made as well as the most 40-plus and 50-plus yard kicks since entering the league as an undrafted rookie in 2012.

Coming through in the clutch has been one of Tucker's strengths. His 92.7 career field-goal success rate (105-of-113) in the second half or overtime ranks as the best mark of all-time.

The Ravens' official web site will occasionally refer to him as "automa-Tuck."

If you combine college and NFL, both regular season and postseason, Tucker had made 333 straight kicks from 33 yards and closer prior to his miss Sunday. His last failed attempt from that distance or closer came on Dec. 3, 2011, when he missed a 31-yard field goal for Texas against Baylor.

"He’s the best in the business," coach John Harbaugh said. "He works very hard. He’s won so many games for us in the past. He’s our kicker and we love him."

Since the NFL moved back the point-after attempts, there have been 242 missed extra points while Tucker had made 222 in a row. In this month alone, nine kickers combined to fail on 13 extra points, including Adam Vinatieri (the all-time leader in field goals made) and Chris Boswell (last year's AFC Pro Bowl kicker).

"The best players [and] the most confident players, they’ll learn from their mistakes, and they’ll move forward and do everything they can to correct those mistakes and improve upon their past performance," Tucker said. "Yes, this one definitely stings, but at the end of the day, the best thing that I can do to be the best teammate possible is work hard and make the next kick."