Week 3 features historic kicking battle in Baltimore originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
Yes, obviously the biggest storyline entering the Ravens' Week 3 Monday night clash with the defending Super Bowl champion Chiefs isn't the kickers.
It's the battle between the next great NFL quarterback rivalry, 2018 MVP Patrick Mahomes and 2019 MVP Lamar Jackson. Or it's the fact that the Chiefs and Ravens are numbers one and two in some order in everybody's power rankings. Or it's John Harbaugh facing his former mentor Andy Reid. Or it's the clash between 2020 first round picks from LSU, Chiefs RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Ravens LB Patrick Queen.
Whatever it is, the biggest storyline for the game of the year in the NFL isn't the kickers...is it?
Ravens fans have been blessed at the kicker position with eight-plus years of Justin Tucker. Chiefs fans think they may have found the next Tucker in fourth-year pro Harrison Butker. The two stars rank no. 1 (Tucker) and no. 2 (Butker) in NFL history in field goal percentage. And they'll both potentially be asked to make big plays Monday night in a game that projects to be close.
I mean.....the story writes itself...— Mina Kimes (@minakimes) September 23, 2020
TWO KICKERS ENTER.
ONLY ONE SURVIVES.
(okay they'll both go home but you get the idea) pic.twitter.com/JRD6EvFNBb
Tucker and Butker are the only two kickers since 1938 with career field goal percentages above 90 percent. Tucker has the seventh-most total field goals made of any active player -- and has been in the NFL for five fewer seasons than anybody ahead of him.
Butker has 101 made field goals since entering the NFL in 2017, more than 20 more than any other kicker to join since then. Of course, in that same time span, Justin Tucker has made 102.
Tucker is also the greatest kicker in NFL history when it comes to extra points -- an even more impressive feat when you consider the distance for extra points was lengthened midway through his career. He ranks no. 1 all-time at 99.03%, while Butker falls all the way to 22nd, with 94.67%.
Neither entered the league with any draft pedigree -- Tucker was undrafted out of Texas, and Butker was a seventh-round pick by the Panthers out of Georgia Tech. And yet, both quickly established themselves with perennial contenders.
Now, they're considered the two best in the game, with Tucker looking more and more like the greatest of all time with every season.
To be that you have to be the very best at what you are doing in the HISTORY of whatever it is you are doing— Jay Feely (@jayfeely) September 23, 2020
Is Tucker the GOAT? The numbers would suggest so, although he still has a ways to go to match the sheer volume of Adam Vinatieri, among others. And the gap isn't that wide, with Butker right on his tail.
Whatever happens Monday night, it will likely be Jackson or Mahomes who has the biggest impact on the outcome of the game. And the same will be true if the Ravens and Chiefs meet again in the playoffs.
But this kicking matchup deserves its due. How often are fans treated to a matchup of statistically the two best ever at the same position in the same game?
This is a game for the ages that features a kicking battle for the ages, too. For Jackson and Mahomes, and also for Tucker and Butker, Monday night can't get here fast enough.