It often takes any rookie time to earn the trust of his elders.
When it’s a rookie kicker, it’s doubly hard.
But for Ravens kicker Justin Tucker, there’s never been a sense that his team didn’t have confidence in him.
Tucker’s double-overtime game-winner against the Broncos stood in stark relief to Billy Cundiff’s AFC Championship Game miss last year, which has the Ravens convinced.
“This year, I’ve never been nervous about Justin Tucker kicking a field goal,” defensive tackle Haloti Ngata said, via Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun. “I kind of just sat back and then waited. It got kind of close. I got a little nervous, but then when it went through, I just kind of jumped up and got excited.
“Justin Tucker is a great kicker, and he’ll probably be here for a while.”
Tucker has given them reason to feel secure, hitting 30-of-33 field goals during the regular season, and allowing them to leave Cundiff’s miss in the past.
“I didn’t think about that,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “That really was not what went through my mind. I didn’t think about that comparison. I thought about the field and whether [Tucker] was going to have his footing. I thought about trying to get the ball to the field if we could, trying to get a few more yards, get a little bit closer. . . .
“I didn’t know that. But, we had a lot of confidence in ‘Tuck’ and really the whole operation. We’d had some issues in protection. They slipped through there a couple of times and got some hands in front of some balls, so we were concerned about that. I just wanted to get close to Ray Rice, because he is a good luck charm. That was the key.”
That, and having a kicker that the football players aren’t afraid of seeing walk on the field.