If you miss the type of kick that Billy Cundiff missed, you’re going to have fans calling for your job.
That’s just how this game works.
But while a portion of the Ravens’ fan base hopes the team will cut ties with Cundiff after he pulled a potential game-tying 32-yard field goal wide left with 15 seconds left in the AFC championship game, the team has no plans to release the eight-year veteran.
Cundiff will be with the Ravens when training camp picks up this summer, and general manager Ozzie Newsome and head coach John Harbaugh are eager to see how he responds to the adversity.
“I know people fail in this business and I know that they have success,” Newsome said at the Ravens’ season-ending press conference. “The only way you’re going to be able to continue to have success is to be able to deal with your failures.”
Part of what makes the Ravens such a successful franchise is they don’t act on emotion. It would’ve been easy for Newsome and Harbaugh to throw blame on Cundiff following his miss or even straight up waive the 31-year-old kicker after his failure to convert a crucial, relatively simple field goal attempt.
Instead, they acted rationally, and while the Ravens might bring in a kicker to push Cundiff in camp, they’ll give the 2010 Pro Bowler a shot to atone for his mistake.
“This business is about managing your mistakes and managing your failures,” team owner Steve Bisciotti said. “Inopportune things like that kill these guys, and I die with them. I don’t lash out. It’s just different. You end up caring for these guys; you know how much time and effort they put in.”
The miss in New England was the worst part of what was overall a rocky 2011 campaign for Cundiff. He went 28-of-37 (75.7 percent) during the regular season, and converted on just one of his six attempts of 50-plus yards.
But it’s not like Cundiff hasn’t had positive stretches in the past that he can try and pull from - he made 26 of his 29 field goal attempts (89.7 percent) during the Pro Bowl season in 2010. Now, Cundiff just needs to try and put the crucial postseason miss behind him and recapture that past success.
“Perspective is a tough thing to find,” Cundiff said last week. “This kind of situation that happened, it stings, and it’s supposed to sting. But, when you think about the big picture, it’s really important to put things in the proper place. (49ers kicker David Akers), last year, missed two big kicks in the playoffs - then he gets run out of town in Philadelphia, and he responds and goes on to have a great, great season with the 49ers. He ends up being an All-Pro, goes to the Pro Bowl again.
“There is a situation where he could have rolled over and just kind of called it quits on a career, or he could have responded the way that he did. That’s something that I am looking to do. Obviously, these kind of situations, they don’t define a person, but it’s a response, in my opinion, that defines somebody. So, I can either go ahead and roll over, or I can pick myself back up knowing that it’s going to sting, but I am going to get back to work and prepare for next year.”