OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) — Justin Tucker vividly remembers every detail of his first field goal try in the NFL.
The Baltimore Ravens were in the third quarter of meaningless preseason game in Atlanta last August. For a rookie placekicker, however, it was the national championship and Super Bowl rolled into one.
"That first kick — 36-yarder from the right hash, Georgia Dome — my heart was probably beating out of my chest a little bit," Tucker recalled Wednesday. "But I stuck with what I know, I did what I always do, and the kick went right down the pipes. From that point on, I've been having fun with every single attempt."
He's having a great deal of success, too.
Tucker is 11 for 12 on field goal tries and has made all 13 conversions attempts. He kicked the game-winning field goal as time expired against New England on Sept. 23, and last Sunday he scored all of Baltimore's points in a 9-6 win over Kansas City.
"In a sense, every kick is like, 'Wow. This is awesome,'" Tucker said. "I really try to treat every attempt exactly the same, whether it's an extra point, a field goal to win the game or a 50-plus yarder. It really shouldn't matter. I try to do the same thing every time."
Tucker won the job over the summer from veteran Billy Cundiff, who subsequently signed with Washington. Cundiff was cut by the Redskins on Tuesday, further justifying coach John Harbaugh's gamble to keep the rookie instead of the veteran.
"I would describe him as a good kicker, first of all," Harbaugh said of Tucker. "We love him. He's ours."
Tucker's bout with nerves on that first kick in Atlanta might seem a bit strange, because at the University of Texas he played in far more important games and in front of bigger crowds. He had bigger kicks, too, most notably a 40-yarder against Texas A&M that gave the Longhorns a 27-25 victory.
Tucker was a solid kicker with Texas and very good when he got to Baltimore. Working with kicking consultant Randy Brown, special teams coach Jerry Rosburg and Harbaugh, a former special teams coach, made Tucker even better.
"I'm a completely different kicker than I was coming out of college," he said.