FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - Billy Cundiff didn’t run and hide.
Cundiff, a Pro Bowler a year ago, sent a potential game-tying 32-yard field goal wide left with 15 seconds left in the fourth quarter, essentially ending the Ravens’ season.
But shortly after missing what has to be the biggest kick of his career to date, Cundiff walked to the podium adjacent to the Ravens’ locker room, and took ownership of his miscue.
“It’s a kick I’ve kicked a thousand times in my career. I just went out there and didn’t convert,” Cundiff said. “That’s the way things go. There’s really no excuse for it. It just didn’t go through.”
While Cundiff had a career year last season, connecting on 90 percent of his kicks, he struggled this year.
He finished the regular season having converted just 28 of his 37 attempts (76 percent), but all of that could have been forgotten if Cundiff had come through big in the postseason. He made two long field goal attempts in last weekend’s divisional round win over the Texans and hit on 20- and 39-yard kicks today, but with the game on the line in the final seconds, he pulled the 32-yard attempt to the left.
“I felt like up to this point, I really have given these guys a lot of reason to believe in me and that things would come through,” Cundiff said. “So, I think if anything, I think the disappointment is letting my teammates down. This is a team game. You know that Ray (Lewis) has poured his heart out, and he’s had a long career, and you don’t know how many years he has left, and to let him down is pretty tough.”
Neither Cundiff nor holder Sam Koch had a real explanation for why the kick sailed wide. Morgan Cox’s snap was on line, Koch got his hold down and Cundiff appeared to keep his footing beneath him.
The only thing Cundiff and Koch could point to was the fact that they were a little rushed coming on to the field. The kick team had to hurry up to the line, and by the time they got the snap off, there was only one second left on the play clock.
“I guess I could say (we were rushed) a little bit, but it’s something that we’ve practiced before,” Koch said. “Were there other things that we could have done? There probably were, but it’s just really unfortunate.”
“I just went out there, the timing seemed a little bit off, and I just didn’t convert,” said Cundiff. “It’s just that simple.”
Head coach John Harbaugh said he didn’t consider taking a timeout with the play clock running down, as he felt the kicking unit had enough time to get set up. But he did acknowledge that in retrospect, “maybe it’s something we could have done”.
Cundiff’s teammates, while clearly emotional after the loss, tried to downplay the miss and said they had their kicker’s back regardless of the outcome.
“I think all of us feel for Billy,” linebacker Terrell Suggs said. “He’s going to be a phenomenal kicker for years to come. I just hope I’m not facing him in the future. He’s going to be back there, probably kick me out of the playoffs, send me home. We love everybody in this locker room. I think he’s going to be all right.”
The miss was Cundiff’s first in the fourth quarter or overtime since the start of the 2010 campaign, but it caps off a disappointing season and sends the Ravens back to Baltimore having come up just short of a trip to Indianapolis.
“I get paid to make field goals; I don’t get paid to miss field goals,” Cundiff said. “We’ll move on from this. It’s one of those things where it will strengthen me in the end.”