Special teams come through again for Ravens

Special teams come through again for Ravens
November 26, 2012, 3:45 pm
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The offense struggled for much of the first three quarters Sunday in San Diego before taking off in the fourth period and overtime. And even though the defense wound up playing well overall, it had some problems in the first half.

Still, once again, the special teams came up huge. Rookie Justin Tucker led the way with three field goals, one of which tied the game and forced overtime. His final kick gave the Ravens the wild come-from-behind 16-13 victory.

Good teams always need a reliable kicker. Billy Cundiff played that role two years ago en route to a Pro Bowl appearance. But he went through injury problems last season and slumped. That's a big reason why Tucker earned a shot at his job last spring and summer.

Tucker's ability to make both long and pressure-filled kicks has been very impressive so far. He calmly drilled a 38-yard kick on the final play of regulation to tie the game at 13 and then force overtime.

Then, in the extra period, he made the same kick to give the Ravens the win. Tucker's already showing nerves of steel, something that coach John Harbaugh and the Ravens have to love. Tucker has kicked several key field goals already this season -- plus long kicks, the kind of thing the Ravens really didn't have before.

Sam Koch didn't get punts that were as long as other games, but he kept working at pinning the Chargers deeper in their territory throughout the game, giving the defense some help. Tucker's kickoffs were solid again, making it harder and harder for San Diego to get any kind of field position.

Plus, the kick coverage again proved helpful. The combination of good punting, clutching kicking and strong tackling again gave the Ravens a boost, a big reason they escaped with the win.