Saw a great stat on ESPN last night after the Steelers fell to the 49ers, pushing the Ravens back up to first place in the AFC North.
Pittsburgh has lost four games this season. Three of them have been to Harbaugh brothers.
Last season, Billy Cundiff was a Pro Bowl kicker. This season, he’s an injured kicker who’s having trouble splitting the uprights.
Coming off a career year in which he made 26 of his 29 field goal attempts (89.7 percent), Cundiff is now battling a lingering left calf injury, and battling himself, as well.
The 31-year-old has already missed nine field goals this season (27-of-36, or 75 percent), and he’s really struggled lately, going just 2-of-5 in December. That includes a 36-yarder which Cundiff pushed wide right on the Ravens’ first drive in Sunday night’s loss to the Chargers.
So what do the Ravens do from here? Can they continue to go to a kicker who was dynamite last season but currently is neither healthy nor consistent? Head coach John Harbaugh addressed that issue last night.
“We’ve got to look at that this week, because he hadn’t been able to practice the last couple of weeks, and that may be affecting him a little bit,” Harbaugh said. “Nobody’s more frustrated right now than Billy with it. Obviously, that’s a real makeable kick - a kick that he had made in pregame. He had a really good pregame, and he had a good day the day before.
“So we’re going to have to look at that really hard this week and try to make a good decision that way.”
What does that mean exactly? Well, it means that the Ravens will at the very least give thought to bringing in Shayne Graham, the veteran kicker who was with them in training camp last year and was brought in for a tryout prior to the game against the Colts two weeks ago.
If Cundiff is unable to kick at a high level during practice this week, the Ravens could either carry two kickers for a brief time and hope a week or two off lets Cundiff heal up, or they could place Cundiff on injured reserve and go with Graham the rest of the season.
To his credit, Cundiff owned up to the missed field goal Sunday night when he spoke to reporters after the game.
“I’m not going to make any excuses,” Cundiff said. “My job is to go out there and kick and make my kicks, and heading into this game I felt like I was in a position to perform at the level necessary to play, and I didn’t do it.”
Strangely enough, all nine of Cundiff’s missed field goals have been on the road this season, and eight of the nine have been pushed wide to the right (the one that didn’t go wide right came off a bad snap).
Cundiff says his approach isn’t any different on the road, but he does admit that this last two-week stretch since suffering the injury has been a tough one.
“It’s been frustrating dealing with my leg, that’s pretty obvious,” Cundiff said. “Still, my confidence doesn’t waver. I just have to make kicks. It’s just that simple.”