DETROIT – Justin Tucker’s powerful leg kicked the Super Bowl champions into playoff gear.
Tucker made six field goals, including a franchise-record 61-yarder with 38 seconds left, that lifted the Baltimore Ravens to an 18-16 win over the Detroit Lions in a Monday night matchup with major postseason implications.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh chose to let Tucker try the longest kick of his career – by 5 yards – instead of going for it on fourth-and-8 from the Detroit 43.
“If they send me out there, they have reason to,” Tucker said. “It’s because they think I can make the kick.”
Rookie safety Matt Elam sealed the victory with an interception – Matthew Stafford’s third of the night – after raising eyebrows during the week by calling 28-year-old Calvin Johnson “pretty old” and saying the plan was to make the star receiver uncomfortable by getting physical with him.
Stafford threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to Joseph Fauria with 2:21 left, putting Detroit up 16-15. But the Lions were unable to make a 2-point conversion and couldn’t prevent Baltimore (8-6) from setting up its sensational kicker for his 33rd successful field goal in a row.
Tucker’s kick went just inside the right upright and barely had enough distance – eight days after Denver’s Matt Prater broke the NFL record with a 64-yarder.
“I definitely felt like I got a lot of leg into it, but it jumped up so high I thought I might have gotten under it,” said Tucker, who mentioned in a television interview right after the game that his six field goals also benefited his fantasy football team.
Tucker, who hasn’t missed a field goal attempt since he was 0 for 2 in Week 2 at Cleveland, has the NFL’s longest streak since Matt Stover made 36 in a row for the Ravens from 2005-06, according to STATS.
“What can you say about Justin Tucker?” Harbaugh said. “When we got the ball there, I think at the 45-yard line, I said, ‘Hey, are we kicking this?’ … He said, ‘I got it.’ ”
Detroit (7-7) has hurt its playoff chances by losing four of its last five.