Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis made a few questionable decisions in Cincinnati’s Week 12 loss to the Ravens. But let’s focus in on one in particular.
After a third-and-four play on which Michael Johnson sacked Joe Flacco, the Ravens were flagged for offensive holding. With 1 minute and 53 seconds left on the clock in the first half, accepting the penalty would have pushed the Ravens back 10 yards, creating a third-and-long opportunity for the Bengals to hopefully keep the Ravens out of field goal range. Flacco was sacked at the Bengals' 39 yard line and the penalty would have set up the next play near midfield.
But instead, Lewis decided to decline the penalty and hand Ravens kicker Justin Tucker an opportunity to kick a 57-yard field goal to improve the Ravens’ lead to 13-3. Tucker did just that, with ease.
After the Bengals’ loss, the media asked Lewis about the decision to decline the penalty, a decision that immediately was met with fan ire on social media.
"Yes, I’m going to make him try it from 57 yards,” Lewis said. “Obviously, you can answer that question.”
Is it obvious? We certainly don’t think so. A member of the media then told Lewis that Tucker is perfect this year on field goal attempts.
“Well, so my point is, it’s still a 57-yard kick that barely gets across,” Lewis responded.
This is a pretty mind boggling thing for Lewis to have said. And for the record, it didn’t “barely get across”. It was an excellent 57-yard field goal. It was actually a better field goal and far more accurate than Mike Nugent’s 23 and 36 yard scores.
On Marvin saying Tucker's 57-yarder "barely gets across"— Jay Morrison (@JayMorrisonCMG) November 27, 2016
The guy in the blue hood catches the ball (brown blur just above him).#Bengals pic.twitter.com/wpZAs3ykTM
Justin Tucker is fantastic. Before hitting that 57 yarder, he ran onto the field & yelled to sidelines to convince Harbs to let him kick.— Garrett Downing (@gdowning14) November 27, 2016
Let’s go over some of the facts on Tucker, who is the NFL’s best kicker right now.
Tucker converted all four of his field-goal attempts in the Ravens’ 19-14 win over the Bengals. That included field goals of 57, 54 and 52 yards in the first half. These scores made Tucker the first player in NFL history to complete three field goals of at least 50 yards in the first half of a game. His three 50+ yard field goals are tied for the most ever in a game and Tucker is the ninth player in league history to accomplish the feat. Dating back to last season, Tucker has successfully converted 34 consecutive field-goal attempts, the sixth-longest streak in NFL history. He is the only kicker in the NFL to make all of his field-goal attempts (27-for-27) this season (minimum 10 attempts).
Tucker very well might be the best player on the Ravens’ roster. So, why would Lewis invite him to attempt a field goal against the Bengals? Seriously, why would he do this?
Well, on the flipside of history, on Sunday, Mike Nugent became the first NFL kicker since 1991 to miss three consecutive extra point attempts. All Lewis knows from his time in Cincinnati is subpar kickers, so no wonder he thought it was a good idea to force Tucker to convert a 57-yard attempt.
Lewis’ decision also proves he doesn’t know enough about his competition and can’t be trusted to make decisions that are best suited for the Bengals. Did he really not know that a key player on the Ravens has yet to miss a field goal this year? Did he know Tucker has successfully completed a 61-yard field goal, for that matter?
Andy Dalton knows Tucker is a “really good” kicker, and thinks everyone else knows it, too. Why didn’t Lewis know this on Sunday?
“He’s a really good kicker,” Dalton said following the game. “Everyone knows it. And he made some long ones today. He did a really good job for them.”
Tucker had the last laugh on Sunday.