BALTIMORE — When the Ravens began their final drive of the game with 6:28 to play, everyone on the roster knew they had to get inside the 49ers 40-yard line.
They knew from there, Justin Tucker would handle the rest.
The Ravens’ offense gained 39 yards in 12 plays, including a 4th down conversion on a quarterback sneak, and set up Tucker on the left hashmark for a 49-yard field goal.
Tucker’s field goal sailed through the uprights, as all but one has this season, which gave the Ravens 20-17 win at M&T Bank Stadium over the 49ers on Sunday. No one on the Ravens had a doubt.
“I think this whole team is living in the moment for these moments, and it’s a really special group,” Tucker said. “I’m just happy to be a part of it. I’m blessed. We just broke down in there, and the message was ‘trust yourself, trust your teammates and trust God.’ That’s what this team is doing right now, and it’s really cool to see.”
The Ravens knew they had to get inside 49ers territory to give Tucker a shot, but the 49ers didn’t make it easy.
Baltimore had to convert a 4th and inches in its own territory, and then a 3rd and one with two minutes left to take the chance to wind the clock down.
Even after the Ravens earned the last first down, they still lost three yards on carries by Lamar Jackson and Mark Ingram. But they were across the 40-yard line, and therefore in Tucker’s range.
“’Tuck’ is the G.O.A.T.,” Ingram said. “He’s auto-ma-Tuck. Of course, we’d like to finish that drive or get him closer, but I know he’s going to be money with it. He’s going to come through. That’s what he’s done, best ever to do it. Automatic. Auto-ma-Tuck.”
The Ravens would have preferred a touchdown, but with Tucker on the sidelines, the length of the drive didn’t have to be anything extraordinary to get Tucker in range.
“All we had to do was get it in close,” Hayden Hurst said. “We know ‘Tuck’ is going to make it. He’s clutch. He’s a guy that’s made 14 or 15 game-winners. The guy is incredible, and sure enough, he did it again today.”
The kick was Tucker’s second last second, game-winning kick of the season, the other coming in Pittsburgh in Week 5.
Now 22-of-23 on field goals this year (a 95.6 percent make rate), there’s not much reason to doubt Tucker on the field when it matters.
“(He’s) got that golden leg,” Jackson said. “I’ve got all the faith in him. I’m on the sideline praying, but at the same time, I’m like, ‘I know Tuck can do it.’ He (does) it all day in practice. He just walks around play-kicking field goals, 65-yarders, so I’ve got all the faith in him.”
Tucker, however, offered no specific mark for the Ravens’ offense to reach. He only needed them to get inside 49ers territory.
“When it’s a walk-off kick, it’s wherever,” Tucker said. “It’s wherever Lamar and these guys are able to get us to, we’re going to do everything we can to give these guys a win, because they deserve it.”
The most difficult aspect of Tucker’s kick was the weather, which hadn’t been friendly all afternoon.
Rain, which varied from a drizzle to downpour, left kicking conditions less-than-ideal on a cold, rainy, windy day. 49ers kicker Robbie Gould, off an injury, had already missed a 51-yard kick on the opposite end of the field short and to the right after a Raven got a hand on his kick.
The field conditions didn’t matter, as Tucker’s kick sliced through the gray and wet Maryland sky like game was in a dome.
“You wouldn’t rather have anybody else in that situation,” coach John Harbaugh said. “That field, that wind, that rain, all of that stuff that was going on there. That’s the guy you want in that situation. I’m very grateful that we have him on Thanksgiving weekend.”
On a day when the Ravens faced offensive struggles for the first time in weeks, they had to rely on perhaps the team’s best and most consistent weapon.
And, like always, Tucker delivered.
“He’s one of the best ever,” Patrick Ricard said. “He can kick it from our 20 and we’d be confident in him.”
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