With the Buffalo Bills and Baltimore Ravens playing Saturday night to punch their own ticket to the AFC Championship Game, the stakes couldn't have been much higher. But beyond trying to beat one another in the NFL playoffs, both teams had to contend with another opponent: the uncooperative weather at Bills Stadium in Orchard Park, New York. The swirling winds played mayhem with the kicking game, costing both teams points in the Bills' 17-3 victory, but they had a particular impact on four-time All-Pro kicker Justin Tucker of the Ravens.
Tucker's reputation is known leaguewide -- he's as near automatic as kickers come. He made 26 of 29 field goal attempts this regular season, going 11-for-12 in the playoffs in his career before this year's NFL postseason. But after missing on one of three attempts against the Titans in the first round of the playoffs, things got worse for Tucker in Buffalo.
In the first half against the Bills, Tucker missed his first two attempts, hitting the left upright from 41 yards in the first quarter, and then from 46 yards in the second quarter, Tucker hit the right upright. He finally redeemed himself at the end of the first half with a 34-yard field goal.
His fellow place-kickers watching had nothing but sympathy for him trying to deliver in these conditions:
You can never trust wind "report". We had a game this year where it was tough to make a 45 yarder the wind was blowing so strong. I checked after the game and the report said the wind was 3 mph 😂. #YeahRight— Graham Gano (@GrahamGano) January 17, 2021
The wind right now if Buffalo pic.twitter.com/gvhIvtJ5N0— Jay Feely (@jayfeely) January 17, 2021
But NFL players past and present also were watching and worried about whether Tucker would be jinxed, and what this might mean for the Ravens' playoff hopes with the goalposts visibly swaying in the strong winds:
How windy is it in that stadium?— Torrey Smith (@TorreySmithWR) January 17, 2021
Everybody Jinxing Tucker! Lmao All I hear left and right is how automatic he is, he doesn't miss from any range! We know he's automatic! Lol Stop Jinxing that man! Lmao 😂😂😂 #TheyDoItOnPurpose 😄— Tre Boston (@TreBos10) January 17, 2021
Tucker obviously awesome but that's how you lose in the playoffs— TJ Lang (@TJLang70) January 17, 2021
He wasn't the only kicker struggling with the weather conditions, as the Bills' Tyler Bass also missed a pair of field goals after making his first attempt to put Buffalo up 3-0 in the first quarter, going wide right from 43 yards in the first half and wide left from 44 yards in the second.