Ravens kicker says scoreboard error forced rushed field coal
(CBS) - Despite the vocal support of his teammates, Baltimore Ravens kicker Billy Cundiff is taking a lot of heat. Ravens fans were left speechless when Cundiff missed a 32-yard field goal with 11 seconds left in the AFC Championship game against the New England Patriots. It appeared to many watching the game that Cundiff rushed the kick. In a recent interview, the Ravens kicker explains why he seemed so flustered on the field. Apparently a scoreboard error forced the rushed field goal and inevitably forced Baltimore out of the playoffs.
In an interview with sports writer Stefan Fatsis for Deadspin, Cundiff explains that the scoreboard was still showing third down when he was suddenly called on to the field to attempt the kick. Fatsis writes:
"Then, suddenly, chaos on the sidelines. Coaches were screaming -- from the opposite end of the field to where Cundiff was thinking his third-down pre-kick kicker thoughts -- for the field-goal unit. The play clock was ticking and Cundiff, as per normal, was back from the sideline and farther from the line of scrimmage than his teammates. As he was not expecting to go in yet, he had to run to get into position for a game-tying kick."
The confusion was due to Anquan Boldin's catch-and-fumble that was mistaken for a first down. Boldin caught the ball but fumbled it forward past the first down marker. By rule, the ball must be returned to the spot of the fumble, negating the first down.
According to the Baltimore Sun, "[Baltimore line backer Terrell] Suggs said there was a discrepancy between the scoreboard at Gillette Stadium and what the officials were saying about what down and distance was after Boldin's fumble. The Ravens took shots at the end zone on 2nd-and-1 and 3rd-and-1 before bringing out Cundiff for a 32-yard field goal attempt."
The Baltimore sideline was operating under the assumption that they were actually playing 1st and 2nd down on those two plays and had to scramble to get the kicking unit on the field once the error was discovered.
Like most athletes, Cundiff had a routine to go through before attempting the field goal. The confusion on the field forced him to interrupt whatever pre-kick rituals he had.
This all raises an obvious question: why didn't Coach John Harbaugh call a timeout?
It's too late now, of course. No doubt Ravens fans will be shaking their head at the play for months to come. Cundiff, to his credit, took full responsibility for the miss. "You have to take it personally," he said. "I get paid to make field goals."
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