Ravens' Evans, Cundiff face the music
January, 22, 2012
By Steven Krasner | ESPNBoston.com
AP Photo/Winslow TownsonRavens kicker Billy Cundiff walks off the field after missing what would have been a game-tying 32-yard field goal.FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The goat horns were attached firmly to two Baltimore Ravens helmets, those belonging to a pair of veterans: wide receiver Lee Evans and kicker Billy Cundiff.
Evans had an apparent game-winning touchdown pass stripped from his hands in the corner of the end zone by Patriots cornerback Sterling Moore with 27 seconds remaining, and Cundiff hooked a 32-yard field goal attempt with 15 seconds left that would have sent the game into overtime.
As the Ravens tried to come to grips with their stunning 23-20 loss to New England in the AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium on Sunday, Evans and Cundiff each met with the media while the Patriots celebrated their return to the Super Bowl.
“When you get the opportunity to make plays, you’ve got to make them. Today I didn’t do that,” said Evans, an eight-year veteran who spent most of his career in Buffalo before joining Baltimore.
“The most disappointing part is I feel I let everyone in the locker room and in Baltimore down. It’s on my shoulders. That’s tough to swallow,” said Evans.
Evans said he didn’t know if he had held onto the 14-yard pass from quarterback Joe Flacco long enough for the officials to give him the benefit of the call. Nor did he want to get into any controversy as to why there was no review of the play.
Because the play occurred in the final two minutes of the half, no coaches challenges are allowed. Close plays are reviewed on the say-so of officials in the booth in the press box. No such review was requested.
AP Photo/Winslow TownsonLee Evans had what looked to be a game-winning touchdown catch for a moment, but the ball was knocked out of his hands by Sterling Moore.
“I don’t even know (if he had control of the ball). I couldn’t even tell you. Obviously it wasn’t a catch,” said Evans.
Once Evans lost the handle on the potential touchdown pass, Flacco misfired a pass to tight end Dennis Pitta.
Still, there were 15 seconds left, and all Cundiff had to do was kick what, for the seven-year veteran, was a veritable chip shot to cap a 65-yard drive after the two-minute warning and send the game into overtime.
But Cundiff missed, wide left, sending the Patriots and their fans into a state of disbelief followed by euphoria as the consequences of the failed kick began to sink in.
“I’ll just keep this simple,” said Cundiff, a seven-year pro who was 28 for 37 on field-goal attempts this season, and was 2 for 2 Sunday prior to the fateful final kick.
“I’ve probably made that kick a thousand times in my career. I went out there and I just didn’t convert. That’s the way things go. There’s no reason for it. It just didn’t go through,” said Cundiff evenly as he stood at the podium in the visiting team’s media room.
“I’m disappointed in letting my teammates down. I look at (veteran linebacker) Ray (Lewis). He poured his heart out. You’re not sure how many years he’s got left (to make a Super Bowl). That’s disappointing. As a professional you get paid to make kicks, not to miss them. The timing was off. I just didn’t convert,” said Cundiff.
“If you look throughout the season, that was the first kick in the fourth quarter I have missed all year. I take pride in that. You always want your teammates to feel that they can always trust me. It just didn’t work out this time,” said Cundiff.