OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Baltimore Ravens kicker Justin Tucker has warmed up before games the same way for 12 years and had never encountered a problem before — until Sunday’s AFC Championship Game.
About 90 minutes before kickoff, Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce and quarterback Patrick Mahomes took exception to Tucker stretching close to where Mahomes was warming up. Multiple videos showed Mahomes twice tossing Tucker’s kicking tee aside and then Kelce kicking some of Tucker’s footballs off to the side and flinging Tucker’s helmet off the field.
«I just thought it was all some gamesmanship, all in good fun,» Tucker said Monday, a day after the Ravens’ 17-10 loss to the Chiefs. «But it seemed to be taken a little more seriously. I’m totally willing to let it all go.»
Tucker, the most accurate kicker in NFL history, explained that this is how kickers around the league have always gotten ready for games. Kickers will make several attempts at both goal posts to get a feel for the wind and the playing surface.
On Sunday, Mahomes was taking his dropbacks near his own goal line, where Tucker had his helmet, kicking tee and three kicking balls. Mahomes asked Tucker if he could move his helmet.
«So I happily got up and I moved my helmet out of the way,» Tucker said. «At least, I think it was enough out of the way.»
Tucker described Kelce and Mahomes as «two of the best players that have ever played the game at their respective positions.» He acknowledged that it was an intense environment but found it «silly» that he had to address something that happened before the game.
«I really don’t see it as a big deal,» Tucker said. «I think if you just see the whole interaction and then you just see us at the coin toss — we’re all dapping each other up and then we just get on with the football game.»