FOXBORO, Mass. — Billy Cundiff had a chance to send the AFC Championship to overtime with one simple kick. Instead, the Baltimore Ravens kicker pulled one left and effectively ended his team’s season at Gillette Stadium, one game shy of the Super Bowl.
Cundiff missed a potential game-tying, 32-yard field goal with 11 seconds to play against the Patriots on Sunday that sealed a 23-20 win for the Pats. With that, they're headed back to another Super Bowl, while Cundiff and the Ravens are left to wonder about what could have been.
However, Cundiff wasn't ready to offer any excuses for the miss.
"I think we can just keep things simple," he said after the game. "It's a kick I've kicked a thousand times in my career. I just went out there and didn't convert. That's the way things go. There's really no excuse for it."
And while there were plenty of reasons for the Ravens' loss -– there always are in any given game -– Cundiff accepted responsibility for letting his veteran-laden team down.
"To be honest with you, I don't think they want to hear an apology," Cundiff added. "They laid it all out there [and] I laid it all out there; sometimes it's just not good enough. When you play long enough, you're going to have games where things just don't go your way."
Baltimore will likely be second-guessed in regards to their handling of the decisive miss, as the field goal unit seemed to rush onto the field, something that both Cundiff and holder Sam Koch agreed may have played a factor.
Koch admitted that the play was "maybe a little bit of a rush," while Cundiff added that his "timing seemed a little bit off."
Ravens coach John Harbaugh admitted that even though he did have a timeout left, the thought of using it to slow things down and make sure his team was ready to go didn't really cross his mind.
"Yeah, that never occurred to me," he said. "I didn't think that. You know, looking back at it now, maybe there was something we could have done. But in the situation, it didn't seem like we were that rushed on the field. [I] thought we were in pretty good shape."
The game-tying attempt could have been a game-winning attempt if it weren't for Harbaugh's decision earlier in the fourth quarter to go for it on a fourth-and-six from the New England 33-yard line. It would have been a 50-yard attempt for Cundiff, a distance he's struggled with this year and throughout his career.
In fact, the veteran kicker entered the day just 5-for-19 for his career from 50 yards or more and just 1-for-6 this season.
"If you look at my stats this year at 50-plus, I didn't really give coach a lot of confidence that I'd make that play," Cundiff said. "Because he's going to look at his sheet and say, 'What are the percentages and how are they going to work in our favor?' This year, I wasn't as successful as I'd like to be in that range, so I probably made the decision for him pretty easy."
Harbaugh backed up that notion after the game.
"We just felt like from a percentage standpoint, we probably had a better chance of getting the first down," the Ravens coach said. "We were throwing the ball well there. That's a long field goal down there, under those conditions on a cold day like this, so we liked our chances there to convert on fourth down."
While Cundiff shouldered much of the blame for missing the kick, his teammates came to his defense to argue otherwise.
"As a man, I said it earlier, not one play won or lost this game," linebacker Ray Lewis said after the game. "Could you have put us in a position to keep playing, absolutely, but one man didn't win or lose the game. There is no one man who has ever lost a game. Don't you ever drop your head, we win as a team, we lose as a team.
"There is no 'Billy is the fault. Billy missed the kick.' It happens, move on, move on, as a man, because life doesn't stop."
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