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Tag:Billy Cundiff
Posted on: January 26, 2012 3:03 pm
 

John Harbaugh speaks out on Scoreboard-Gate

Cundiff

By Josh Katzowitz

Since Ravens kicker Billy Cundiff badly hooked the game-tying 32-yard field goal that would have sent last Sunday’s AFC title game vs. the Patriots to overtime, there have been a rash of conspiracy theories about why Cundiff sprinted to the field as the play-clock wound down and looked out of sorts while missing the kick.

One report said Cundiff wasn’t paying attention and that, although the Ravens coaching staff called for him six times, he didn’t respond until it was almost too late. Another said there was a discrepancy between which down the scoreboard displayed and which down the officials were counting and that Cundiff thought it was third down when it was actually fourth down.

Some believed somehow the Patriots had cheated and forced Cundiff (by sheer willpower or telepathic mind bullets, I suppose) to blow the biggest kick of his career.

Frankly, Ravens coach John Harbaugh is tired of the conversation, which is why he released this statement from the Senior Bowl (via ESPN.com): "Any suggestion that the wrong down information was a deliberate effort to affect the outcome of the game is nonsense.”

Harbaugh might have felt compelled to act after Ravens kicking specialist Randy Brown made mention of Spygate during a recent radio interview and how you couldn’t automatically acquit the Patriots of cheating.

“The scoreboard was one down behind, the entire last three plays, from what we understand,” Brown told 94 WIP radio in Philadelphia. Asked if he thought the mistake was intentional, he said, “I don’t think you can rule anything out in New England, can you?”

Said Harbaugh: “We knew what the down and distance were on our last series. The scoreboard was not a factor for us."

Hopefully, Harbaugh’s statement will calm down the conspiracy theorists. Somehow, though, I doubt it.

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Posted on: January 25, 2012 10:05 pm
 

Video: Ray Lewis' inspirational post-game speech

Lewis put Baltimore's playoff loss to New England in perspective. (Getty Images)

By Ryan Wilson

Sometimes it's easy to forget that football really is nothing more than a bunch of guys in costumes playing a game. It's not life or death or the end-all be-all, even if a subset fans prefer to live that reality. Last Sunday, for the second time in four years, the Ravens lost in the AFC Championship game, and it happened in heartbreaking fashion. With seconds remaining, Lee Evans dropped a perfect throw from Joe Flacco for what would've been the go-ahead touchdown.

And then a harried Billy Cundiff pull-hooked a gimme 32-yard field goal after inexplicably losing track of the game situation. It was an improbable chain of events that had to be particularly hard to swallow for veterans like Ed Reed and Ray Lewis, players who very well may have retired had the Ravens won the Super Bowl.

Afterwards, Lewis, who has been this team's leader since he was drafted in 1996, didn't bemoan his fate or call out his underperforming teammates. Instead, he came to their defense during his postgame interview. And before that, but shortly after the season's outcome had been decided, he gave an impassioned speech that helped put things in perspective.


Cundiff later told the media that “You know that Ray Lewis has poured his heart out, and you don’t know how many years he has left. To let him down is pretty tough.”

Lewis might've been let down but he sounds like he's at peace with whatever life may bring. There's a lesson in there somewhere for these folks.

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Posted on: January 23, 2012 10:05 pm
Edited on: January 23, 2012 10:13 pm
 

Suggs, Kluwe defend Cundiff, take aim at Bayless

Suggs and Kluwe have no time for silliness. (US PRESSWIRE/Getty Images)

By Ryan Wilson

ESPN First Take co-host Skip Bayless is known for many things: unconditional faith in Tebowmania, contrarian viewpoints, and TALKING IN A VERY LOUD VOICE when making his case. 

Shortly after Ravens kicker Billy Cundiff honked what would've been the game-tying field goal in the AFC Championship game against the Patriots, Bayless tweeted this:

RealSkipBayless
Honestly, I felt sorry for Suggs/Ray/EReed. Fought guts out, lost b/c a nonplayer missed easy kick. WHY I HATE FG KICKING. Ban it!
1/22/12 6:31 PM

Doing away with kickers is a predictably tired argument that pops up every time a game is lost on a botched field-goal attempt. 

On Monday, Cundiff's teammate, linebacker Terrell Suggs, called into First Take to talk about what transpired in Foxboro the night before. Bayless asked Suggs if the confusion leading up to Cundiff's missed kick was because the Patriots were beneficiaries of "home cooking" from the officials.

Suggs was having none of it. In much the same way a grizzled parent dismisses their unruly kid begging for attention, an unemotional Suggs kindly asked Bayless to join him back on Earth.

“Stop that. I know what you’re doing,” Suggs said, chastising Bayless. “Once again, stop it. Be an analyst. Don’t be a d-----bag. You know what I meant.”

(You can watch Suggs calmly put Bayless in his place here.)

A great moment in unintentional comedy, for sure. But it gets better.

Vikings punter Chris Kluwe weighed in on Bayless' "I hate FG kicking...ban it" tweet. (If you're not familiar with Kluwe's work, he's not your typically mild-manndered punter. He has opinions on matters outside football, is smart, and wickedly funny. In short: he's somebody you want to keep on your good side. Just ask former NFL wide receiver Nate Jackson.)

After Suggs scolded Bayless for his over-the-top schtick, Kluwe piled on via Twitter:

ChrisWarcraft
Couldn't have said it better myself. T. Suggs to Bayless on First Take: "Skip, be an analyst. Don't be a d-----bag." #wordsofwisdom
1/23/12 1:21 PM

And this, a few hours later...

ChrisWarcraft
I'm confused @RealSkipBayless. After Super Bowl XXXVI, you wrote that Vinatieri should be in the HoF. But now kickers are non-players?
1/23/12 6:09 PM

ChrisWarcraft
How is Adam going to make it to the Hall of Fame if you abolish his position @RealSkipBayless?! YOUR WORDS MAKE MY BRAIN ASPLODE #factssuck
1/23/12 6:10 PM

So, yes, don't make Kluwe angry. You won't like him when he's angry. The NFL can confirm this (Kluwe has taken great pleasure in mocking the league for, among other things, using season-ending injuries to promote fantasy football and their wishy-washy rules on injuries, fake or otherwise.)

Bayless has yet to respond to Kluwe.

Meanwhile, SportsIllustrated.com's Richard Deitsch, who follows the media closely as part of his day job, offered this frank assessment Monday afternoon:

richarddeitsch
ESPN execs have no idea how badly Bayless's flotsam reflects on its network & those at ESPN trying to do good work.
1/23/12 1:56 PM

via Shutdown Corner 


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Posted on: January 23, 2012 9:18 pm
Edited on: January 23, 2012 9:20 pm
 

Scoreboard mistake caused Cundiff to rush kick?

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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Posted on: January 23, 2012 3:04 pm
 

Was Cundiff not paying attention before kick?

B. Cundiff missed a 32-yard FG to tie New England.By Josh Katzowitz

There’s been a mini-controversy brewing over why Ravens coach John Harbaugh didn’t call time out in the final seconds of regulation Sunday, just before kicker Billy Cundiff missed a 32-yard field goal that would have tied the Patriots and sent the game to overtime.

As my CBSSports.com colleague Ryan Wilson wrote, Harbaugh said it never occurred to him to call timeout and that Cundiff said, "It's a kick I've kicked probably a thousand times out there … I didn't convert and that's the way things go. There's really no excuse for it."

Well, there might be an excuse after all, though it’s not coming from Cundiff and it places all the blame on him. According to TMZ, Cundiff, while practicing kicks on the sideline, was unaware of the Ravens field position and coaches were “furious” that Cundiff wasn’t ready to kick.

That could explain why you saw Cundiff sprint from mid-field to the 22-yard line with time running out on the playclock, and that could be why Cundiff so badly missed wide left on the game-tying field goal.

According to TMZ, “coaches repeatedly called for Cundiff -- at least 6 times -- to no avail -- he wasn't responding.  … Our sources say players and coaches are saying Cundiff was distracted ... not paying attention and not ready to immediately execute a kick.”

Maybe Harbaugh was furious at his kicker (just like the other dozens of times coaches are furious at their players during a game), but in the aftermath, he also was reassuring. "I just told [Cundiff] it's going to be okay," he said. "Everybody has a bad day ... Billy's going to be fine."


The Patriots beat the Ravens 23-20 in the AFC Championship Game on Sunday after Baltimore's Billy Cundiff missed a 32-yard field-goal attempt with 11 seconds remaining that would have tied the score. Jim Nantz and Phil Simms recap all the action. 


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Posted on: January 22, 2012 11:18 pm
Edited on: January 23, 2012 2:00 pm
 

Sorting the Sunday Pile: Super Bowl storylines

Posted by Will Brinson


Sorting the Sunday Pile takes all of Sunday's NFL action, figures out the winners and losers and asks the big questions. Send your complaints, questions and comments to Will Brinson on Twitter. Listen to the Championship Weekend Podcast Recap below and don't forget to
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Super Bowl Storylines

We have less than two weeks until Super Bowl XLVI is played in Indianapolis, and you need to be prepared for a slew of recurring storylines that will come forth over the next 14 days. Some are good, some are bad. Here are the biggest ones:

1. Playing in Peyton's House
No. 2 on this list will be the most talked about early on, but the biggest story of this Super Bowl is that this matchup takes place in the House of Peyton Manning. Peyton carved out a legacy as a sure-fire Hall of Fame quarterback in Indianapolis, and now the Colts quarterback is sidelined, unsure of his future in Indy, as he watches his most hated rival (Brady) battle his little brother (Eli) for a Super Bowl victory in the Colts stadium.

There's no telling how much face time Peyton will have to put in for the Colts over the next two weeks, and it could very well be minimal, but he's the city's most famous athlete (by a WIDE margin) and it's hard to imagine that he can just go underground while two guys whose lives are so closely parallel to his own prepare to do battle on his field.

2. 2007, All Over Again
Not sure if you heard or not, but the Giants beat the previously undefeated Patriots in the 2007 Super Bowl. It was a pretty good game. A lot of the people who will play in this year's game played in that game. (The Patriots are so bitter about 2007 that they were likely rooting for the Giants against the 49ers, just to get revenge.)

This will be the predominant storyline, whether you like it or not, over the next two weeks.

3. Tom Brady's Legacy
Brady is one of four quarterbacks with three Super Bowl wins. Another one moves him out of a tie with Troy Aikman (three each) and into a tie with Terry Bradshaw and his boyhood hero Joe Montana as quarterbacks with four Super Bowl wins.

There will be a discussion as to whether Brady warrants mentioning as the greatest quarterback of all-time if he wins a fourth Super Bowl. There will be plenty of chatter about how he matches up with Montana. And there will also be a discussion about what a second Super Bowl loss would mean to Brady: he could conceivably move to 3-2 in NFL championship games. That's not "bad" by any stretch of the imagination, but it's also not 4-1.

4. Is Eli Better Than Peyton?
We mentioned Peyton Manning already, but this is one that's going to get a lot of discussion: Manning's clearly established himself as a top-five NFL quarterback this season and he's putting together a ridiculous playoff résumé that is forging his overall legacy as an NFL quarterback.

In terms of raw statistical production, it's not even a contest right now, as Peyton's career numbers crush Eli's career numbers. Really, it's no contest. But Eli's also five years younger and has a shot at picking up his second Super Bowl, something Peyton doesn't have. Siblings can certainly be happy for one another when it comes to their respective success, but it's also going to be rough for both Peyton and Eli to find out how many times "Is Eli better than Peyton?" can be asked in a two-week span.

5. Brady and Eli in the Same Class
And our final quarterback comparison that will go down over the next fortnight: Brady and Eli. They'll go head-to-head for the second time in a Super Bowl over the past five years and this one has special meaning, and not just because Eli beat Brady the last time around. It's also because Eli said prior to the 2011 season that he belonged in the "same class" as Brady.

That's what any competitor should say, but Manning's spent all season long proving that he does belong on the same stage as Brady. A second Super Bowl win -- both over Tom Terrific -- would give Eli the last laugh if anyone asks him the same question before the 2012 season.

6. Bill Belichick's Best Coaching Job?
There's already a good argument that the 2011 Patriots are Bill Belichick's best coaching job in his career. That's a reasonable argument considering the Pats locked down the top seed in the AFC and made it to the Super Bowl despite continually starting Julian Edelman in their secondary.

Leading up to the Super Bowl, lots of people will point out that because of the defensive deficiencies and a number of other issues that a win cements this New England team as Belichick's finest work. They might very well be right.

7. Chad Ochocinco
The always-controversial wideout's been quiet this year and he was inactive for Sunday's AFC Championship Game after leaving the team to attend the funeral of his father. And though Chad fell in line with "The Patriot Way" this year, he's still an erstwhile celebrity, and he'll command some serious media attention over the next two weeks. Will he play? Will he make an impact? Can he play? Should he play? And so on and so forth.

8. Giants Defense
There's several different layers to New York's Big D. First of all, they're using the same formula as 2007, with a relentless pass rush. Secondly, you have to pressure Brady to stop him. Third, they run their mouths at an incredible (and awesome, if you're in the media) pace, and there's a decent chance we get a guarantee from someone (ahem, Jason Pierre-Paul and/or Antrel Rolle).

They'll be the difference-maker in this Super Bowl, because stopping Brady typically means stopping the Patriots, if you can provide enough offense to put some distance between the two.

Winners

Sterling Moore: With the Patriots already starting wideout Julian Edelman, Moore was signed off the street in September after being cut from the Raiders pratice squad. In the biggest moment of his life, he made the biggest plays, knocking the ball out of Lee Evans hands to spoil a Baltimore touchdown and then swatting a ball away from Dennis Pitta on third down to force a game-tying field goal attempt from Baltimore.

Eli Manning:
Manning became the first quarterback in NFL history to win five road playoff games on Sunday night. That's not just impressive, it's amazing: road wins aren't easy to pull off in the regular season but coming from behind and making clutch plays and winning in impossible/unlikely situations is just becoming Manning's modus operandi at this point.

Joe Flacco
: It never seemed realistic that Flacco could "win" if the Ravens lost, but he managed to silence his critics in the loss on Sunday night. There were things he could've done better, for sure, and he missed a pair of deep balls to Torrey Smith that might have given the Ravens a win. But he also put the Ravens in position to -- at worst -- send the game to overtime. Others screwed the pooch, not Flacco.

Giants Defense: Who do you want to give the award to on this side of the ball? Jason Pierre-Paul, Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora and Mathias Kiwanuka all registered at least half a sack against Alex Smith and that's precisely the reason why it's believable for the Giants to take down the Patriots in the Super Bowl one more time.

Alex Smith: Yeah, yeah, he lost. But it doesn't matter, because Smith played in horrible conditions against an insane pass rush on the biggest stage, and he played well. Sure, he didn't complete 32 passes like Eli. In fact, he only attempted 26. And only 12 of those were completions. But the dude made some plays with his legs (six rushes, 42 yards), and two of his passes were beautiful shots to Vernon Davis for scores, and Smith kept the 49ers in this game until the end.

Oh, Billy. Billy, Billy, Billy. (Getty Images)

Losers

Billy Cundiff: Can I just type "Ray Finkle" 50 times and call it a day? Cundiff's lack of range -- he was one of six from 50-plus yards in the 2011 regular season -- forced the Ravens hand on offense and then Cundiff shanked a potential game-tying field goal with mere seconds left.

Kyle Williams: It's not Williams fault that Ted Ginn missed a game that featured a ton of rain. But that doesn't mean he can go out there and muff a pair of punts to give the Giants the ball on the 49ers side of the field. Williams set the Giants up for a touchdown in regulation and a game-winning field goal in overtime.

Lee Evans: As noted above, Evans had a ball knocked out from his hands that would've been a touchdown. But it's pretty clear that he got lazy on the play -- hold onto the ball and the Ravens probably play in the Super Bowl. I'm sure his four passes caught in the regular season makes up for it though.

Ed Hochuli's Review Explanations: Four score and seven years ago, Hochuli faced the camera and began explaining why something happened in football. It took him -- literally -- a minute to explain the new playoff overtime rules, and he might've actually used 100 words to explain a false start at one point. Go back to being a gunshow.

Twitter: Aren't you guys rich enough to buy a server that doesn't crash during big NFL games?

GIF O' THE WEEK

Man, Vince Wilfork is steamed.


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Posted on: January 22, 2012 7:26 pm
Edited on: January 22, 2012 7:46 pm
 

Why didn't Ravens use last timeout for Cundiff?

John Harbaugh will have to answer questions all offseason about why he didn't use that last timeout in Foxboro. (Getty Images)

By Ryan Wilson

One of the Ravens' biggest questions heading into the Patriots game -- the play of quarterback Joe Flacco -- turned into their biggest asset. Flacco outplayed counterpart and future Hall of Famer Tom Brady, and if not suspect coaching on that final, fateful drive, Baltimore -- not New England -- might be celebrating an AFC Championship victory and an impending trip to Indianapolis for the Super Bowl.

Instead, the Ravens have the offseason to assess and reassess what went wrong, and to decide if Flacco truly is their franchise quarterback. We'll get that conversation started by pointing to one critical mistake in the game's final moments that had everything to do with the outcome.

First, let's set the stage: the Ravens held the Patriots to four plays on their previous two drives, the first ended in an interception in the end zone and the other was a three-and-out that gave Baltimore the ball at their own 21, trailing 23-20, and with 1:44 on the clock.

Flacco calmly moved the ball down the field, needing seven plays to get the Ravens to the Pats' 23-yard line. Facing a 2nd and 1 from the New England 14 with 27 seconds left, Flacco hit Lee Evans in the hands, in the end zone for what should've been the go-ahead touchdown. Pats cornerback Sterling Moore broke up the pass before Evans got two feet down. Incomplete pass.

After the game, some Ravens' supporters -- including coach John Harbaugh -- thought Evans had scored. "I'm surprised they didn't look at it," Harbaugh said in his post-game press conference. (The likely reason it wasn't reviewed: again, Evans only got one foot down. You can see it in the video here. And read the NFL's official explanation here.)

And while Lee's drop was big, it wasn't the primary reason for the final result. That would come two plays later when Baltimore, with one timeout left, instead chose to rush kicker Billy Cundiff on the field and attempt a field goal to tie the game. Cundiff looked hurried as he sprinted from midfield to Pats' 22-yard line. When arrived at his holder there were 10 seconds remaining on the play clock. And, of course, that one timeout that would ultimately go unused. The ball was snapped as the play clock ticked down to :01 and Cundiff promptly honked it. Game over. Ravens lose, despite one of Flacco's best efforts in his four-year career.


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. 

Harbaugh was asked afterwards if he thought about using that timeout and he said it never occurred to him.

"It's a kick I've kicked probably a thousand times out there," Cundiff told reporters after the game. "... I didn't convert and that's the way things go. There's really no excuse for it."

"I just told [Cundiff] it's going to be okay," Harbaugh said. "Everybody has a bad day ... Billy's going to be fine."

Cardinals kicker Jay Feely tweeted after the game that it's the kicker's job to call timeout if he feels rushed.

Or, you know, the coach could do it.

And if you're still skeptical that icing the kicker is a good strategy (it's not), credit to Bill Belichick for not using one of New England's timeouts to "ice" Cundiff. We're guessing he saw the chaos unfolding and didn't want to do anything to help the Ravens out.


The Patriots beat the Ravens 23-20 in the AFC Championship Game on Sunday after Baltimore's Billy Cundiff missed a 32-yard field-goal attempt with 11 seconds remaining that would have tied the score. Jim Nantz and Phil Simms recap all the action. 

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Posted on: March 24, 2011 10:17 am
 

Hot Routes 3.24.11 lockout side effects

Hot Routes

Posted by Andy Benoit

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com