Blog Entry

Scoreboard mistake caused Cundiff to rush kick?

Posted on: January 23, 2012 9:18 pm
Edited on: January 23, 2012 9:20 pm
Cundiff isn't making excuses but admits there was confusion on the sidelines Sunday. (AP)

By Ryan Wilson

Not long after kicker Billy Cundiff pull-hooked a 32-yard field-goal attempt that would've likely sent the Ravens and Patriots to overtime, we wondered why Baltimore head coach John Harbaugh didn't use the team's last timeout. He said it never occurred to him, even though Cundiff was clearly rushed as he set up for a pretty important kick. By the time the ball was finally snapped, there was just one second remaining on the play clock.

A day later, there were reports that Cundiff "wasn't paying attention" which, frankly, seemed ludicrous.

Stefan Fatsis, who wrote a book on his summer as a training-camp kicker for the Broncos, spoke Monday with Cundiff who explained exactly what happened on that final, fateful play.

Ravens kicker Billy Cundiff missed a 32-yard field goal with 11 seconds left that would have sent the game into overtime, and instead sent the Patriots to the Super Bowl. 

Like most kickers, Cundiff has a routine on every drive that starts on first down and ends on fourth down, either with him on the field attempting a field goal or with the Ravens' punting. As he explained to Fatsis, because NFL sidelines are a crowded place, it's easiest to follow the action by watching it live on the stadium scoreboard. Except on the Ravens' final drive Sunday, the scoreboard read third down when, in reality, it was fourth down. Fatsis explains:

"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 stemmed from an Anquan Boldin catch-and-fumble that was mistaken for a first down. (Boldin had fumbled the ball forward past the first-down marker. The rules state the ball must be returned to the spot of the fumble, which is what happened.)

According to the Baltimore Sun's Matt Vensel, "[Terrell] Suggs said there was a discrepancy between the scoreboard at Gillette Stadium and what the officials were saying about what the 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 problem: what was actually second and third down on the field was shown on the scoreboard as first and second down, respectively. Hence Cundiff's confusion and the subsequent scrambling to get the kick off.

Which again raises the question: why didn't Harbaugh call timeout.

It doesn't matter now, of course. Cundiff, to his credit, isn't looking to shirk the blame. And his teammates, to a man, have his back.

"Every single guy who said something to me after the game, in the locker room, or on the plane" was supportive, Cundiff told Fatsis, including Harbaugh.

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Since: Sep 12, 2006
Posted on: January 24, 2012 9:10 am

Scoreboard mistake caused Cundiff to rush kick?

Jay Feeley said on ESPN radio that NFL kickers practice for moments like that all the time.
You have to be ready as he said.
It was a shank, simple and plain.........move on.

Since: Feb 16, 2007
Posted on: January 24, 2012 9:10 am

Scoreboard mistake caused Cundiff to rush kick?

And the whimpering and crying from the Ravens continues.  This is an normal thing for this team.

Since: Dec 1, 2008
Posted on: January 24, 2012 9:07 am

Scoreboard mistake caused Cundiff to rush kick?

Don't most teams kick on third down anyway in that situation in case there is a mess up with the snap or hold?  Is he expecting us to believe that in the biggest game to that point of the season, the AFC championship game, he didn't know what down it was?  I am sorry, but I think that this is just an excuse.  He has to be ready at any time.  I just don't believe it.  At least he isn't blaming the miss on this excuse.  I would lose total respect for him if that is what he was doing.

Since: Jul 13, 2009
Posted on: January 24, 2012 9:06 am

Scoreboard mistake caused Cundiff to rush kick?

Excuses, excuses, excuses.  He missed the kick.  Plain and simple.

Since: Sep 12, 2007
Posted on: January 24, 2012 8:51 am

Scoreboard mistake caused Cundiff to rush kick?

Im a HUGE Ravens fan...but he missed it...lets move on...

Since: May 1, 2009
Posted on: January 24, 2012 8:51 am

Scoreboard mistake caused Cundiff to rush kick?

Funnym that it took SO long for this to be pointed out.....when watching the play live, I noticed Cundiff sprinting and/or rushing onto the field and thought it was odd. Also, thought it stange that the announcers did not mention it at all, nor did it come up in the immediate aftermath. Scoreboard error aside, the Raven staff had to have noticed and MUST call a timeout in that situation.

Since: Jul 24, 2007
Posted on: January 24, 2012 8:51 am

Scoreboard mistake caused Cundiff to rush kick?

@sfpatriots-- Brady & co are not the first team to reach 5 SuperBowls in a short period of time.  The Dallas Cowboys, under Tom Landry, had 5 SuperBowl appearances in 9 years (between the 1970 and 1978 seasons)... so, as a matter of fact, I can relate to what the Patriots have accomplished.  And whether you love 'em or hate 'em, their accomplishment should not be diminished in the least.  People want to say that the Patriots cheated, but they weren't the only team attempting to film practices and walkthroughs... they just got caught doing it.  Regardless, the team still had to perform on the field, or they wouldn't have won any championships, SuperBowl OR AFC.

Now granted, the 2001 season's playoff matchup vs. Oakland, which resulted in the "tuck rule" debacle was ridiculous, and the rationalization used to defend that horrible call (we have to judge CONTENT, not INTENT), if it was used in a fair and consistent manner, would have overturned Ty Law's pick six in the SuperBowl against the Rams (because Mike Vrabel's arm, on follow through from attempting to block Kurt Warner's pass, contacted Warner's helmet, which should have resulted in a personal foul call.  It's not that Vrabel meant to hit Warner, it's just that he did).  Other than that, it was more the opponent's miscues that the Patriots' alleged "cheating" that lead to the Patriots winning their SuperBowls.  They, like many other teams before them, took advantage of the mistakes made by their opponents.  For example, the Panthers had just tied the Patriots, but then kicked off out of bounds.  This set up the Patriots with awesome field position.  They cashed in with a last-second Vinatieri FG and a SuperBowl win.  The following season, if D-Mac wasn't healthy enough to run the hurry-up in the 4th quarter, it was time for Andy Reid to put in Koy Detmer until Donovan was feeling better.  But that slow down offense killed their chances, and they ended up 3 points short... just like everyone else.

The Giants didn't make those kinds of mistakes, and had a miraculous play of their own (David Tyree on 4th down) to help them win.  It will be interesting to see how the "rematch" goes.  Brady is very good, but I think that the Giants are the better team.  It ought to be a close one, and interesting to watch.  Peace!!

Since: Dec 18, 2007
Posted on: January 24, 2012 8:50 am

Scoreboard mistake caused Cundiff to rush kick?

I don't care if he just awoke from a coma.  A pro kicker has to make that kick. 

Since: Sep 5, 2009
Posted on: January 24, 2012 8:44 am

Scoreboard mistake caused Cundiff to rush kick?

     NFLFairPlay, good post and analysis.

Since: Sep 5, 2009
Posted on: January 24, 2012 8:37 am

Scoreboard mistake caused Cundiff to rush kick? that 1 your IQ or number of friends?  "Slacko" threw a perfect pass into the end zone to Evans who ended up getting the ball knocked away by an alert Sterling Moore.  Flacco WAS trying for a TD and it isn't his fault Evans didn't hold on to the ball.  I guess it was Flacco's fault for the missed FG also, right? 

; Think before you post next time, dipsh!t. 

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