2012 NFL Playoffs: 3 Things to Take Away from AFC Championship Game

Jonathan ReynoldsContributor IIIJanuary 23, 2012

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

Billy Cundiff Will Be Fired

The man who will most likely take on all the blame for the Baltimore Ravens' loss on Sunday to the New England Patriots will be veteran kicker Bill Cundiff.

With 15 seconds left in the game, Cundiff missed a game-tying field goal that could have sent the contest into overtime, giving the Ravens another chance at getting to the Super Bowl for the first time since 2000.

According to Skip Bayless on ESPN's First Take, Cundiff's miss was the shortest kick ever missed in the last 30 seconds of a playoff game where the kicker's team lost.

As a kicker, your job is to make field goals. If you can't do your job, you will most definitely be cut. We've seen this from even the most proven clutch kickers, such as Adam Vinatieri. Cundiff knows he'll be cut, but the worst part about it is that he missed the kick in such dramatic fashion.

It wasn't just any kick. It was a 32-yard attempt that every kicker in the NFL should be able to make in their sleep.

I wonder how it feels to know that your legacy from here on out will be that you missed one of the most crucial kicks in recent playoff history by a landslide.

Lee Evans Should Be Fired

While everyone goes around blaming Cundiff, let's a take a second to remember what happened to place him in that situation.

Oh yeah, that's right. Lee Evans dropped what could have been the game-winning touchdown.

Joe Flacco might not have had the best game going into the final minutes, but he stepped up considerably to lead the offense on what could have been a remarkable final touchdown drive. Instead, the final throw that left the hand of Flacco found its way into the hands of Evans only to be stripped away by Patriots' defensive back Sterling Moore.

As a wide receiver in that situation, there is no excuse to drop that pass. As the ball came into his hands for the catch, Evans should have had the presence of mind to fall on the ground while securing the ball with both hands to successfully complete the pass and be down by contact in the end zone for a ticket to a Super Bowl XXXV rematch between the Ravens and the New York Giants.

What if He Did Catch That Pass?

Looking at the tape again, it almost looks like Evans did indeed have possession of the ball before it was stripped away and bounced out of bounds. The most surprising part of that play was the referee's decision not to review the play.

Whether he caught the ball or not, the referees should have taken the time out to at least review the play.

Ravens' coach Jim Harbaugh stated in an interview "I tried to get [the officials'] attention and thought it would be looked at," Harbaugh said. "I thought they would have at least looked at it. I was surprised that they didn't look at it. Obviously, in that situation, I thought they would have looked at it."

Ravens fans are left with a sour taste in their mouths after the game as they're forced to watch the Patriots and Giants compete for the Vince Lombardi trophy from the outside looking in.