New England Patriots

Place kicker Justin Tucker of the Baltimore Ravens kicks the game-winning field goal against the New England Patriots in the fourth quarter at M&T Bank Stadium on September 23, 2012 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Baltimore Ravens won, 31-30. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com

If you’re a Patriots fan, you may assume Bill Belichick would tell you that Adam Vinatieri is the best kicker in the history of the league.

Turns out he’s more of a Justin Tucker guy. At least this week he is.

Tucker will suit up against the Patriots for the fifth time in his career (including playoffs) on Sunday night in Baltimore, and he’ll do it in his eighth season in the league. He’s been arguably the best kicker in the NFL over that time, earning three First Team All-Pro selections along the way. But when you ask Belichick where he’d rank Tucker among kickers, he’ll take it a step further.

“Best kicker in the history of the league, right?”

via GIPHY

Mike Bill and Adam hate each other I’m tellin’ ya!

Let’s be real, though. Belichick calling anyone the best in the history of the league at anything is noteworthy. He’s coached and played against a lot of kickers in his four-plus decades in the league. He also called Stephen Gostkowski one of the greatest kickers of all time earlier this season. And yes, he also called Vinatieri “the greatest kicker in the game” last time he spoke at length about the future Hall of Famer.

“[Vinatieri] was a clutch, dependable player in his role. So, you can’t ask for much more than that,” Belichick said on a conference call last October. “He has had a fabulous career. Certainly, in my opinion, the greatest kicker in the game. Not just for his longevity and production but again, the magnitude of some of the kicks that he made and the difficulty – particularly the one that you mentioned. But there were many besides that – the kick in the Super Bowl and the kick in the Carolina Super Bowl.

“So, I mean there were just big games after big games that we couldn’t – back in 2001, it seemed like every game came down to the last possession or the last kick. Every point was critical. Those games we won in 2001 and 2003 – especially in the early part of the year in 2003 – were all close games and tough ones. Adam came through for us with some enormous kicks.”

Adam Vinatieri of the New England Patriots kicks the game-winning field goal against the Oakland Raiders during the AFC playoff game at Foxboro Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts on Jan. 9, 2002. (Ezra Shaw/ Getty Images)

Adam Vinatieri of the New England Patriots kicks the game-winning field goal against the Oakland Raiders during the AFC playoff game at Foxboro Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts on Jan. 9, 2002. (Ezra Shaw/ Getty Images)

Chalk it up to just an enormous amount of respect for Tucker, who is currently the all-time leader in career field goal percentage at 90.7 percent. He’s still 360 field goals behind Vinatieri for the all-time mark in that department, though.

Hopefully for the Patriots, Sunday night’s game doesn’t come down to the performance of the kickers. Because the Ravens have a massive advantage at that position.

Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at matthew.dolloff@bbgi.com.