Patriots

Bill Belichick said Justin Tucker has ‘reset’ the kicker position

Tucker holds a pair of key NFL records.

Justin Tucker drained one of the first memorable kicks of his illustrious career against the Patriots. Jim Davis/Globe Staff

Bill Belichick perhaps has no love greater than his love for special teams players. This weekend, he goes up against quite possibly one of the best special teams players in NFL history.

Ravens kicker Justin Tucker has left very little doubt that he’s been the best kicker in the league since he entered it in 2012. Tucker’s been named a first-team All-Pro five times and second-team All-Pro twice in the first 10 seasons of his career. He also holds some key records, such as the record for the highest percentage of made kicks (91.1 percent) and the longest made kick (66 yards) in NFL history.

As the Patriots prepare to face the Ravens on Sunday, Belichick shared where Tucker’s place in NFL history is.

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“He’s reset that position by probably a pretty decent amount,” Belichick said. “This isn’t like being 200th of a second under the world record. This guy’s really reset the bar. No miss kicks, accuracy is very good, distance, range.

“He really shortens the field. He makes the field about ten yards shorter than most everybody has it. Not just with his leg strength, but the fact of his accuracy and how good he is from long range as well. He’s a touchback guy, if they want to do that.”

When speaking of Tucker, Belichick briefly compared him to former Ravens kicker Matt Stover, a player Belichick coached during his time with the Browns. Stover made a pair of All-Pro teams during his 18 seasons with the Browns/Ravens franchise and holds a pair of NFL records, such as the most consecutive games with a field goal (38) and most points scored by a player in his 30s (1,113).

Belichick was surprised that the Ravens were able to find a kicker even better than Stover.

“Yeah, he and Stover have had tremendous careers and he’s come in and just kind of one upped it,” Belichick said. “Lot of good kicking there for a long time, between whenever Stover was, 1992, he didn’t kick for very long, but from 1993 on, so what’s that? Thirty years. Thirty years of having a really good kicker, two guys, that’s pretty good and counting. Tucker’s still got a year or two left.”

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Even though Tucker drained a game-winning field goal at the buzzer in his first matchup against the Patriots in 2012, he hasn’t had the success he’s used to having when he faces New England. He’s made just 75 percent (6-of-8) of his kicks, which is his second-lowest field goal percentage against an AFC opponent, and has even missed an extra point in five career matchups against the Patriots.

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