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Billy Cundiff: Ravens Kicker Accepts Blame In Wake of Epic Choke Job

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 22:  The New England Patriots celebrate after Billy Cundiff #7 of the Baltimore Ravens missed a game tying field goal late in the fourth quarter during their AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium on January 22, 2012 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images
Eric BallFeatured ColumnistJanuary 22, 2012

Billy Cundiff is having the kind of Sunday that all kickers hope they never experience.

He was wide left on a potential 32-yard game-tying field goal that clinched a 23-20 victory for the New England Patriots.

Joe Flacco marched the offense from the Baltimore 21 all the way down to the Patriots 14. But the Ravens couldn’t convert a 3rd-and-1 so it was all up to Cundiff with 15 seconds remaining and he blew it. Fair or not, the names Lin Elliott and Scott Norwood are being mentioned alongside Cundiff. It’s a kick that will be etched in history as one of the all-time worst choke jobs.

After the game, Cundiff didn't duck reporters:

It's a kick I've kicked probably a thousand times out there. I didn't convert and that's the way things go. There's really no excuse for it. I think the disappointment is letting my teammates down.

Linebacker Ray Lewis will be 37 next season and Ed Reed will be 34. How much longer can the defense be dominant before Father Time takes over?  

The missed kick clinched a fifth Super Bowl in the Bill Belichick and Tom Brady era and the second loss in four years in the AFC Championship for Baltimore.

With 239 yards, Brady moved past John Elway into fourth place on the all-time postseason yardage list. This was Brady’s 16th postseason win as a starter, tying him with Joe Montana for most all-time.

But the lasting memory of this game will be Cundiff.

A Pro Bowler in 2010, Cundiff missed 10 kicks on the road this season, finishing 32-of-42, meaning all of his misses came outside of Baltimore.

John Harbaugh went out of his way to deflect the blame onto one person in his postgame remarks:

It's two great football teams, two gladiators, I guess, just kind of going at each other at the end, and I'm proud of our guys. You know, we've got 53 guys, mighty men, as we like to call them—and they fought, and we came up a little bit short, as 53. You know, 53 win and 53 lose. I just told [Cundiff] it's going to be okay. Everybody has a bad day ... Billy's going to be fine.

Will he be back kicking field goals for the Ravens in 2012? It’s hard to see it after his critical mistake. You know the fans won’t be forgiving him anytime soon.

This is just the latest example of how stressful the life of a kicker can be. 

 

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