Ravens vs Patriots: Billy Cundiff Deserves Blame for Loss, but How Much?

Andrea HangstFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 23, 2012

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 22:  Billy Cundiff #7 of the Baltimore Ravens miss a game tying field goal late in the fourth quarter against the New England Patriots 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

Baltimore Ravens kicker Billy Cundiff missed a game-tying field goal with 11 seconds remaining in Sunday's AFC Championship Game against the New England Patriots, costing his team the chance to win.

That's the thing—Cundiff's miss cost the Ravens a chance at winning the game, but were he to make it, there was still no guarantee that Baltimore would have won.

Who knows how many possessions the Ravens and Patriots would have gotten into overtime, and who knows how that iteration of the game would have played out. While these issues are now moot, it's hard to say that Cundiff's miss cost the Ravens a win, even though it certainly led to their loss.

Wide receiver Lee Evans' inability to hold onto a sure touchdown on the previous play—and Patriots cornerback Sterling Moore's successful effort to rip the ball away—cost the Ravens a win. Cundiff's miss cost the team a chance in overtime.

It's frustrating that the Ravens found themselves in this situation in the first place. Their offense was performing well throughout the game, with quarterback Joe Flacco finding 306 yards worth of success against the Patriots' 31st-ranked pass defense.

Drive after drive, it seemed that the Ravens could move the ball at will, but the Patriots defense found a way to tighten up at the end, with the Ravens' final three possessions ending with an interception, a turnover on downs and that missed field goal.

Ultimately the Ravens lost because of Cundiff's field goal, but him making it didn't guarantee that the Ravens would win.

There are a number of things the team as a whole could have done better in Sunday's game that would have prevented the Ravens from being in the position to rely on Cundiff to take the game into overtime in the first place.

It was Cundiff's fault that the Ravens lost, but the fact that him making it wouldn't have guaranteed a Baltimore win proves that Cundiff shouldn't solely take the blame for the team not reaching the Super Bowl this season.