Listen — this is what it takes to kick a field goal. You run onto the field, you get set up, you kick the ball. Most of the time, if you're a professional kicker, you kick the thing through the uprights and your team gets three points. Sometimes there's a bad snap, other times there's a bad hold, and sometimes you just plain miss.
The Ravens, though, in the wake of their 23-20 AFC Championship Game loss to New England, would like you to believe otherwise. They'd like you to believe that not knowing the down of a play earlier in the drive can lead you to miss a kick, they'd like you to believe that the ticking clock was out of their control and worst of all, they'd like you to believe that a scoreboard error was part of some funny business done on purpose by the cheating Patriots, who just can't help themselves but cheat all the time.
But they're not bold enough to come right out and say it.
"I don't think you can rule anything out in New England, can you?" Ravens kicking consultant Randy Brown told a Baltimore radio station when asked if he suspected the Patriots intentionally altered the scoreboard to gain an advantage.
For background, kicker Billy Cundiff, who shanked the would-be game-tying field goal, said that his pre-kick routine was disturbed because the Gillette Stadium scoreboard had the wrong down on the screen. On second down, it said first down, and on third down, it said second down. So when fourth down rolled around, Cundiff only thought it was third down. He had to rush on the field, and he told a Deadspin correspondent that the confusion contributed to the horrendous kick.
Forget the fact that Brown didn't have the gall to stand up and say something clearly and instead chose to softly suggest that foul play may have been involved. Let's just put on the record what Brown is not ruling out:
–That the scoreboard operator, first and foremost, understands the intricacies that go into the preparation for kicking a field goal. That operator no doubt has to be a former kicker himself. I'm going with Bill Gramatica. He's probably been looking for revenge ever since that injury.
–That Gramatica knew without a doubt that Sterling Moore would knock a game-winning touchdown out of the grasp of Lee Evans, and that Moore would again break up a third-down pass that would force the Ravens to attempt a field goal.
–(If you're keeping track, we've got a psychic Argentinian operating the scoreboard down at Gillette. Listen, you can't rule this stuff out. Not with the Patriots.)
–Not only is Gramatica able to predict the future, but he's also able to process all of this in about 5 seconds. That's how much time he had to make this devious move. He saw Anquan Boldin fumble the ball out of bounds past the first down marker and thought to himself, "Yes! Here's my opportunity! That ball will be spotted back where Boldin fumbled, one yard shy of the first down. But because I'm so damn sneaky, I will act like I think the ball will be placed where it went out of bounds, one yard beyond the first down marker. Yes! That will surely screw with Cundiff's preparation, because, based on my psychic knowledge, he will definitely be kicking a field goal in two plays!
"Hahahahaha! I did it! I've conned the Ravens!"
–Lastly, not only is Evil Bill Gramatica capable of all of that, but he also used his mind control tactics on the Ravens, who had a timeout but chose not to use it.
After the game, head coach John Harbaugh seemed surprised to learn this news (perhaps he was busy trying to find Evil Bill Gramatica).
"Yeah, that never occurred to me," Harbaugh told reporters when asked if he considered calling a timeout. "I didn't think that. You know, looking back at it now, maybe there was something we could have done."
Hindsight is always 20-20 there big John, but it's time to look forward. That should start with you telling your staff, players and anyone employed by the Ravens not to launch crybaby theories that make your team look pathetic.