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Billy Cundiff: Why Lee Evans Must Share Blame with Ravens Kicker for Loss

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 22:  Sterling Moore #29 of the New England Patriots breaks up a catch intended for Lee Evans #83 of the Baltimore Ravens late in the fourth quarter during their AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium on January 22, 2012 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images
Timothy RappFeatured ColumnistJanuary 23, 2012

It would be easy to blame Billy Cundiff—and the 32-yard field goal he missed that would have sent the game into overtime—for the Baltimore Ravens' loss to the New England Patriots in the AFC championship game.

Hell, some jerk even wrote an article (jokingly) blaming Cundiff for the Twitter outage on Sunday afternoon.

But really, the man who deserves the true ire of Ravens fans everywhere is wide receiver Lee Evans, who had what would have likely been the game-winning touchdown in his hands before Patriots defensive back Sterling Moore slapped it away.

Here are two reasons why you should leave Cundiff alone:

1. Baltimore should have called a timeout rather than rush the field-goal unit onto the field.

2. Though he still should have made the kick, there's no guarantee Baltimore would have won in overtime anyway.

And here are a few reasons why you should turn your attention to Lee Evans:

1. He had the game-winning touchdown pass in his arms with 22 seconds left. He has to make that play.

2. He had the game-winning touchdown pass in his arms with 22 seconds left. He has to make that play.

3. He had the game-winning touchdown pass in his arms with 22 seconds left. He has to make that play.

This list could keep going, but for time constraints we'll shorten it to three.

Evans was brought to Baltimore this year to be the deep threat alongside Anquan Boldin that would take the Ravens passing game to the next level. Instead, he missed seven games, only had four catches in the regular season and watched rookie Torrey Smith steal the role of vertical threat in the Ravens offense.

The Ravens missed other opportunities, of course—pinning down a game on only two plays isn't fair. Just ask Ray Lewis (via Sports Illustrated):

"Not one play won or lost this game,'' linebacker Ray Lewis said. "There's no `Oh, Billy's the fault. Billy missed the (kick).' There's no freaking `Billy missed the kick.' It happened. Move on.

"We're grinders,'' he said, wiping his face with a towel in the quiet Ravens locker room. "We're coming home and we're coming home with smiles. But, most importantly, when we start back training, we're coming back (ticked) off. Why wouldn't we be?''

So no, don't blame it all on Cundiff. Evans deserves his share of the blame, too. As do a number of Ravens who maybe blew an assignment earlier in the game, or missed a tackle, or couldn't connect on a wide-open receiver streaking deep down the middle of the field.

It's a team game, after all.

Even if it's easier to blame the kicker.


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