FOXBORO, Mass. — For six years, Bill Belichick had the good fortune of coaching a kicker whom some consider the greatest in NFL history: Adam Vinatieri.
However, Belichick’s comments Friday morning sure make it seem as if he believes it’s Justin Tucker who stands alone atop the NFL kicking mountain.
Of course, that wouldn’t be an outrageous assertion. Tucker, 32, currently has the best field-goal percentage (91.1%) in NFL history. And while Tucker doesn’t have Vinatieri-level heroics on his résumé, he is a five-time All-Pro and one-time Super Bowl champion.
Ahead of Sunday’s game between the New England Patriots and Baltimore Ravens, Belichick offered his thoughts on the future Hall of Famer.
“He’s reset that position by probably a pretty decent amount,” Belichick said. “This isn’t like being 200th of a second under the world record. This guy’s really reset the bar. No missed kicks, accuracy is very good, distance, range. He really shortens the field. He makes the field about ten yards shorter than most everybody else has it. Not just with his leg strength, but the fact of his accuracy and how good he is from long range as well. He’s a touchback guy, if they want to do that. But yeah, he and (Matt) Stover have had tremendous, tremendous careers and he’s come in and just kind of one-upped it.”
Belichick then offered the kind of special teams deep-cut that only he could remember.
Stover, who spent 13 of his 19 NFL seasons in Baltimore, is one of the more accomplished kickers in league history. He ranks 31st on the all-time field goal percentage list and his 471 made fields rank sixth all-time. But Stover wasn’t good in 1992, missing eight of 29 field-goal attempts while kicking for the Cleveland Browns.
His head coach that season? Belichick, who hasn’t forgotten Stover’s rough campaign.
“Lot of good kicking (in Baltimore) for a long time,” Belichick said. “Between whenever Stover was, (19)92, he didn’t kick very well in ’92, but from (19)93 on, so what’s that? Thirty years. Thirty years of having a really good kicker, two guys, that’s pretty good — and counting. Tucker’s still got a year or two left.”
Belichick was wrong about one thing: Stover didn’t join the Ravens until 1996. But we’ll give him a pass.
Tucker missed only one kick last season and is 2-for-2 through two games in 2022. He’ll look to improve that mark Sunday afternoon when the Ravens visit the Patriots at Gillette Stadium.