OWINGS MILLS, Md. — If the Baltimore Ravens need a field goal in the waning seconds of the AFC championship game, they'll call upon a rookie with little regard for history.
Justin Tucker knows all about the 32-yard kick that Billy Cundiff missed last January against the New England Patriots, costing the Ravens a chance to force overtime with a trip to the Super Bowl hanging in the balance.
None of that bothers Tucker.
What's in the past is in the past, he said. Anything that's happened in the past year, two years, five years, 10 years, or just the last several weeks, that's all null and void now because we just have a singular task at hand — to beat New England.
Cundiff's miss in the AFC title game was among the most agonizing plays in Ravens history. With Baltimore trailing 23-20 in the final minute, Lee Evans dropped a pass in the end zone before Cundiff's kick sailed wide left to end the Ravens' season.
I moved on right after it happened, Cundiff said recently. Because I think in order to have success in this league, you have to wipe the slate clean every year. You can't drag things in, whether it's positive or negative, because each year is brand new. (But) would I like to have that kick back? Yeah, most definitely I would.
Cundiff was invited back to training camp last summer and was favored to beat out Tucker, a rookie out of the University of Texas. But coach John Harbaugh picked Tucker, who went on to validate the decision by making every clutch kick from September through last weekend.
Tucker went 30 for 33 on field goal tries during the regular season, including game-winners against New England and San Diego. Last week, he nailed a 47-yarder in the second overtime to give the Ravens a 38-35 win over top-seed Denver.