DETROIT — Justin Tucker ended the game as if he was starting it, backing up an extra step or two and kicking the football with every bit of force he had in his right foot.
Tucker set an NFL record with a 66-yard field goal, bouncing it through off the crossbar as time expired to lift the Baltimore Ravens to a 19-17 win over the Detroit Lions on Sunday.
“That one was more like a kickoff,” he said. “It’s like you’re a competitor in a long-drive contest. You just let it rip and hope it stays straight.”
The kick topped the 64-yard field goal Matt Prater made for Denver against Tennessee on Dec. 8, 2013. Prater’s attempt at a 68-yard kick for Arizona on Sunday fell short and was returned 109 yards for a touchdown by Jacksonville’s Jamal Agnew, a former teammate in Detroit.
Lamar Jackson — and perhaps a break from the officials — made the record-breaking kick at Ford Field possible.
On fourth-and-19 from the Baltimore 16, he threw a 36-yard pass to Sammy Watkins to get the Ravens across midfield with 7 seconds left. The superstar quarterback spiked the ball to stop the clock, and on the next snap, he threw it away after TV footage suggested the play clock expired.
“We’ll get an apology and it doesn’t mean anything,” Detroit coach Dan Campbell said.
Then Tucker — who made a 61-yard kick to beat the Lions in Baltimore’s previous visit to Detroit eight years ago — came out and made the record-breaking field goal.
“I love Detroit,” said Tucker, who is the most accurate kicker in NFL history. “I’m thinking about getting a place here.”
Referee Scott Novak told a pool reporter that he had not seen a replay of the play in which the play clock appeared on TV to expire before Jackson’s incomplete pass to the sideline, adding he had no idea if there was an error made.
“The back judge is looking at the play clock and if it were to hit zero, he sees the zero, and he then looks to see if the ball is being snapped,” Novak said. “If the ball is being snapped, we will let the play go. If it’s not moving, it’s delay of game. Those are the mechanics that we apply on that play.”
Baltimore (2-1) went into the fourth quarter with a 16-7 lead and ended up trailing briefly.
Ryan Santoso made a go-ahead, 35-yard field goal with 1:04 left, giving Campbell an opportunity to win his first game with the Lions (0-3).
“It hurts because you put yourself in position to win,” Campbell said. “The silver lining is we’re getting better and I’m proud of the way they competed.”
Santoso was promoted from Detroit’s practice squad on Saturday after kicker Austin Seibert went on the COVID-19 reserve list.
Jackson was 16 of 31 for a season-high 287 yards with a touchdown and an interception. His teammates dropped at least four passes that could have potentially turned the closely contested game into a rout.
Mark Andrews had five receptions for 109 yards for the Ravens, who have won 11 straight games against NFC opponents.
Jackson perfectly placed two passes on one drive that should have been touchdowns, but Watkins and Marquise Brown failed to catch the football. Brown also dropped two passes on a single possession late in the first half, forcing Baltimore to punt.
Detroit’s Jared Goff was 22 of 30 for 217 yards and D’Andre Swift had 107 yards of offense and a score.
“I know this city and this franchise have gone through a lot of gut punches in the last few years, but I’m telling you we will remain true and remain resilient and the gut punches will stop,” Goff said.
The Ravens often had to settle for field goals, and they’re fortunate to have one of the best ever handling that job for them.
Tucker, who was wide right on a 49-yard field goal in the first quarter, made a 39-yard kick with 10:05 left in the first half to put them ahead 3-0. Tucker made two field goals in the third.
“He’s a huge part of our game,” Jackson said. “If we’re not getting it done, he’s going to come through and give us three points here, three points there.”
The Lions have a history of losing on long kicks. In addition to the two by Tucker, Detroit was also on the wrong end of Tom Dempsey’s then-record 63-yarder in 1970 for New Orleans. Buffalo’s Dan Carpenter beat the Lions with a 58-yarder in 2014.
WHAT A RUSH
The Ravens ran for 116 yards, surpassing 100 yards for the 42nd straight game to pull within one of the NFL record set by Pittsburgh from 1974-77.
Calvin Johnson set aside his hard feelings for the Lions long enough to be honored at halftime, receiving his ring of excellence from the Pro Football Hall of Fame after being inducted last month.
Ravens: Rookie LB Daelin Hayes (ankle) and S DeShon Elliott (quadriceps) were hurt during the game. The defense started the game without DE Derek Wolfe (back, hip injuries), and LBs Jaylon Ferguson and Justin Houston and DL Brandon Williams and Justin Madubuike went on the reserve/COVID-19 list Friday.
Lions: LB Trey Flowers (shoulder, knee) was inactive.
Ravens: Play at Denver next Sunday.
Lions: Play at Chicago next Sunday.
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