It was a slightly unusual sight prior to rookie kicker Justin Tucker booting a 47-yard game-winning field during the second overtime of the Ravens' AFC divisional-round playoff victory over the Denver Broncos.
Following the first overtime of the AFC North champions' 38-35 win Saturday at Sports Authority Field at Mile High, Tucker rushed onto the field to get in some practice kicks under the supervision of kicking coach Randy Brown.
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“Usually at the change of the quarter, you don't see people run out there and kick the ball, but we figured, 'Nobody has told us not to before so we'll go hit one,’” Tucker said. “I'm glad we did because it is different kicking on the sideline where the grass is green and plush and it's all good, as opposed to on the field, where it was straight mud at a certain point.”
NFL vice president of football communications Michael Signora told The Baltimore Sun that there is no penalty for practice kicks, but officials are instructed to not allow kickers to delay the action.
“The officials make sure the players are off the field and not delaying the next snap,” Signora wrote in an email. “But they do not call a penalty, as long as there is no delay of game. With no delay of game, there is no penalty.”
Former NFL vice president of officiating Mike Pereira, who now works for FOX Sports, wrote the following explanation via his Twitter account: “Final note. Officials are told not to allow a practice kick on the field. If it happens, they're to tell him to get off the field. No penalty.”
Ravens coach John Harbaugh said it's not that unusual to get in some extra practice work between quarters.
“That's pretty standard for us,” Harbaugh said. “We always do that. You go out there and try to get a feel for the wind if you have a chance in between quarters and two-minute warnings.”
The Ravens lost the AFC championship game last year to the New England Patriots when former Pro Bowl kicker Billy Cundiff, who was beaten out by Tucker during training camp, flubbed a 32-yard field goal attempt that would have sent the game into overtime.
Tucker said he was glad that he was able to switch fields and kick toward the south end zone following the first overtime.
“That was pretty convenient,” said Tucker, who made 67-yard field goals during warm-ups. “We were able to get a slight tailwind behind us. So, I'm really able to attack the ball and hit it straight instead of worrying about anything else. It was pretty nice to have the slight tailwind.”
Since installing the strong-legged, accurate Tucker, field goals are no longer an adventure in anxiety.
Tucker connected on 30 of 33 field goals during the regular season, scoring 132 points as he converted all 42 extra points.
“I always feel good about going out on the field,” Tucker said. “Not a lot of people get to do this. This is a heck of a lot of fun. More than anything, I try to cherish every opportunity I get, and more than anything, trust our routine.”