Ravens kicker Billy Cundiff missed a 32-yard field goal with 11 seconds left that would have tied the AFC Championship Game at 23. The miss essentially gave the Patriots the win, sending them to the Super Bowl.
When Cundiff attempted his field goal, the entire play seemed rushed; the ball was snapped just before the play clock expired. Cundiff told Deadspin’s Stefan Fatsis that the entire sequence was rushed because of an error on the Gillette Stadium scoreboard.
According to Cundiff, and confirmed by the Ravens on tape, the Gillette Stadium scoreboard erroneously said Baltimore got a first down on a pass to Anquan Boldin. There was some confusion on the Boldin play because he fumbled the ball out of bounds ahead of the first down marker. By rule, the ball cannot be advanced on a fumble. So in actuality, Boldin was tackled a yard shy of the first down marker, setting up a 2nd and 1. When it was second down for Baltimore, Cundiff thought it was first down because of what the scoreboard said, and so on.
By the time the team got to fourth down, Cundiff thought it was still third down thus he was unprepared for his kick.
Cundiff has accepted all blame for the kick and said it’s a routine one he should have made. He says he feels badly for ruining the season for his teammates. But this development has led some people to question if the scoreboard error was an intentional move by the Patriots to confuse Baltimore. Given New England’s history of videotaping opponents’ signals, and the reports that they sabotaged opposing teams’ headsets, there seems to be grounds for the speculation.
Bottom line: Cundiff’s missed kick isn’t the only reason they lost the game, and there’s no guarantee they would have won in overtime. Their offense had plenty of opportunities to score points and did not deliver. And Cundiff, regardless of whether or not he was confused by what down it was, should have made a 32-yard field goal. This is a team that reached the AFC Championship Game. They shouldn’t be making excuses like they’re a 2-14 team.
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