Jamison Hensley, ESPN Staff Writer 348d

The 0-for-23 slump: Ravens extend 16-year drought involving onside kicks

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Baltimore Ravens desperately needed a last-minute onside kick to keep their fourth-quarter rally alive.

But Justin Tucker's try didn't give the Ravens a chance to recover it. Kickoffs need to travel at least 10 yards, and Tucker's attempt only went six yards before stopping on the Nissan Stadium turf.

Baltimore should be used to this type of misstep, eh, mis-kick. The Ravens have gone 16 years without a successful onside kick, a drought spanning 23 failed attempts, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

The latest wrapped up Sunday's 23-20 loss to the Tennessee Titans.

"I felt like I hit it the exact same way I do in practice and it just didn't happen to roll," Tucker said. "It might have hit a soft spot. When you're playing on a grass field toward the end of the game, stuff can get chewed up a little bit. That was just my instant reaction -- thinking maybe it just hit the soft spot and didn't want to go."

This is an amazing drought considering the talented legs Baltimore has had over the years. The Ravens have had three Pro Bowl kickers (Tucker, Matt Stover and Billy Cundiff) in this span.

Still, the last time Baltimore recovered an onside kicker was Oct. 14, 2001 at the Green Bay Packers. That's a slump covering 5,866 days.

To put it in perspective, Tucker was 11 years old when Ed Hartwell came up with Stover's onside kicker at Lambeau Field (where Baltimore lost to Green Bay, 31-23).

No one on this current Ravens team knows how long it's been since Baltimore last recovered an onside kick. After throwing a one-yard touchdown pass to Mike Wallace, quarterback Joe Flacco made sure he got a good vantage point along the sideline of Tucker's onside kick.

"I have a lot of faith in Justin," Flacco said. "I know he's great at kicking some of those. I've seen him in practice a bunch doing different types of onside kicks. I was actually pretty confident that we had a good shot at getting it."

Tucker, a unanimous first-team All-Pro last year, has earned that confidence over the years. He's the second-most accurate kicker in NFL history who makes long-range kicks look like chip shots.

In gusty and unpredictable winds Sunday, Tucker converted from 30 and 49 yards.

"The kicks we made today were some of the toughest kicks that I made in my almost six years playing," Tucker said. "I'll just leave it at that."

In the end, Tucker came up a little short on the onside kick. The Titans then ran out the remaining 45 seconds to drop the Ravens to a 4-5 record.

The odds certainly say it's just a matter of time before Tucker gets that elusive onside kick to go in the Ravens' favor. The only team to go longer without a successful drought is the Carolina Panthers.

"At the end of the day, I want to be as close as perfect as possible," Tucker said. "Leaving the onside kick definitely stings. You know what? It's on to the next one."

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