In between the first and second overtimes Saturday, Ravens kicker Justin Tucker rushed onto the field and took a few practice kicks. Four plays into the second overtime, Tucker hit the winning, 47-yard field goal.
Practice kicks are certainly unusual, but they aren't technically illegal. There's nothing in the rule book preventing it.
"The officials make sure the players are off the field and not delaying the next snap," said Michael Signora, the NFL vice president of football communications. "But they do not call a penalty, as long as there is no delay of game. With no delay of game, there is no penalty."
Tucker said the practice kicks definitely helped him when it came to putting the winning field goal through the uprights.
“Usually, at the change of the quarter, you don't see people run out there and kick the ball, but we figured, 'Nobody has told us not to before so we'll go hit one,’” Tucker said. “I'm glad we did, because it is different kicking on the sideline, where the grass is green and plush and it's all good, as opposed to on the field, where it was straight mud at a certain point.”
Ravens coach John Harbaugh said his team has gotten in practice kicks in between quarters this season.
“That's pretty standard for us,” Harbaugh said. “We always do that. You go out there and try to get a feel for the wind if you have a chance in between quarters and two-minute warnings.”
Broncos coach John Fox didn't sound too upset with the Ravens' practice kicks after the game. "I don't think there is any rule that disallows them," he said. "But I don't think that was the difference in the game."
It wouldn't be surprising if the NFL competition committee addresses practice kicks this offseason. Of course, Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome, who is on the committee, would probably be in favor of allowing them to happen based on Saturday's AFC divisional playoff game.