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: Jun 5, 2011
Posted on: January 24, 2012 10:22 am

Scoreboard mistake caused Cundiff to rush kick?

The brothers Harbaugh now have all off season to compare could've's, would'ves and should'ves.  Two tough losses, with both games being thought of as they lost, more-so, than the other team won.  As for the Ravens, of course Harbaugh should've used the TO when he noticed his team rushing to lineup, but the pass to Evans that he didn't control would've taken Cundiff out of this.  Evans nonchalanted the pass with the game on the line.

Since: Aug 10, 2011
Posted on: January 24, 2012 10:21 am

Scoreboard mistake caused Cundiff to rush kick?

It's rare that teammates support a kicker when he doesn't come through.  They always cheer when he kicks the game winner, but rarely do they get "supportive" words if they miss.  Good for the team, that's the way a locker room should act.  Win or lose, it's a team game.

Since: Jan 17, 2012
Posted on: January 24, 2012 10:09 am

Scoreboard mistake caused Cundiff to rush kick?

Baltimore lost because of mental mistakes.  They should have won that game.  Why didn't Harbaugh call a timeout?  Why wasn't Cundiff ready?  This is the type that loses games. 

Since: Jul 27, 2011
Posted on: January 24, 2012 10:04 am

Scoreboard mistake caused Cundiff to rush kick?

What we have seen here is the very reason why sportsmen and women are capable of making regular plays like clockwork but sometimes struggle when it really matters.

Kickers have a routine, and whilst it varies from player to player it is far too often linked to what is going on in the game. As such, a kicker is going through a process on a 3rd down and to then be told that in fact it is fourth down would completely kill the process. At that point, the result will be determined on the ability of a player to ignore being a pre-programmed machine and instead react to the moment (and a high emotion moment at that).

Back when I was "involved" in sport, I had a coach who regularly broke the training and told me I had 10 seconds to achieve something (it was not NFL, but to analogise it would be something similar to 10 seconds to go kick a 40 yard FG, with no warning). It makes so much sense (and made such sense at the time), because life is easy when regular things happen but the secret is the ability to deal with the unpredictable.

I did not see the snap (which may have been an issue), but any professional K should be capable of kicking a 32 yd FG on demand. They would then have walked off the field and the debate into the chaois could have begun - but only after the kick. The fact that he buckled says to me that the coaching had him on a routine and that the routine should never suffer deviation, and at the end of a game this big (notice how both finished in a flourish and were incredibly tight) he should have been prepared for anything, not routine.

And he wasn't.

In life we are judged by our ability in a crisis. Kickers are far more important in a crisis than in regular moments, as their disproportionate number of appearances in last second disasters/glory goes to show. More focus on mental toughness is needed, I suspect.

Since: Jun 25, 2009
Posted on: January 24, 2012 10:03 am

Scoreboard mistake caused Cundiff to rush kick?

some teams kick a field goal on third down in the overtime, not in regulation time. 

Great point.  A coach that didn't take any risks all game long who's only goal was to keep the game close should know better.  Unless you're going to take a couple good shots into the endzone, why not kick it on 3rd down?  This way you can afford a screw up and you have plenty of options.  Instead they don't go for the endzone and wait until 4th down to kick the ball.... that was just stupid !

Since: Apr 6, 2008
Posted on: January 24, 2012 10:00 am

Scoreboard mistake caused Cundiff to rush kick?

I wondered why Cundiff was running onto the field at the last second. He is a dope. The entire field goal unit was on the field and in position, where was Cundiff?? This is like Thurman Thomas when he could not find his helmet to start a super bowl. A complete MORON. Harbaugh should have called time out. Why go home with a time out in your pocket? I am glad they messed up. Anyteam with a killer (Ray Lewis) on the team should not be in the super bowl. Ray Lewis should be in jail, he is a MURDERER. As long as he is on this team I hope they lose every game they play.

Since: Jan 24, 2012
Posted on: January 24, 2012 10:00 am

Scoreboard mistake caused Cundiff to rush kick?

Being a Colt's fan I look forward to when the Pats get beat, but the timing of this article is bad.  It ultimately comes down to if you feel rushed use your last time out.  You can't save it for OT.  Common Man!

Since: Sep 21, 2006
Posted on: January 24, 2012 9:56 am

Scoreboard mistake caused Cundiff to rush kick?

Did you read the article EZ? It plainly suggests out loud the fact that the head Coach should have taken a time out with all the scrambling going on with his kicking team. Comparing you and your buddies watching the game on TV to a kicker actually playing in game is a little off. Did it dawn on you that maybe the RAVENS employ someone, whose resposibility to let the kicker know when 4th down is coming up rather than have the kicker watching down and distance? and that players are focussed on their specific roles and tasks of the game, Ie Sideline meetings, practice kicks,etc?? As stated, kickers have a routine. The article simply says he had a routine and he was on thrid down which is why he looked rushed. None of us at home could have known that but the coach should have. No excuse given, just a statement of facts. The article also goes on to explain the kicker did not want to shirk the blame. You response sure smakcs of a guilty concious. Would The Patriots stoop that low to win a game? I dont know, Maybe but that isnt the point of the artilce.
And by the way, you watching at home definatley need a scoreboard to keep track of down and distance. If the NETWORKS didnt keep it in your face on the screen every second, you'd lose track as well. Oh and then there are those guys, you know the annoucers that explain to you what is happening. But thats beside the point. 

Vis 20/40 

Since: Dec 13, 2008
Posted on: January 24, 2012 9:52 am

Scoreboard mistake caused Cundiff to rush kick?

This article is pathetic. Is it that slow of a news day that you can find anything better to write about??

Since: Mar 6, 2008
Posted on: January 24, 2012 9:44 am

Scoreboard mistake caused Cundiff to rush kick?

It really sucks where we live in a day where everyone is entitled. Writers can write stupid stories to just drum up controversy and athletes can blame everything around them for being at fault. Listen people, people are human they make mistakes. Pay attention to what is going on in the game. No one watching didn't know what dowm it was. Thr announcers knew what down it was, the coaches knew what down it was....Stop whining...Get on with your lives......The coach didn't call time out, he choked as much as his kicker. The kicker could have said i am feeling rushed, stop the game, I need to gather my thoughts, I can't do this right now..sob..sob...Get real...Suck it up and deal

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