OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Billy Cundiff is trying to do what Scott Norwood and Gary Anderson failed to do -- remain confident after a monumental missed kick.
Cundiff said his confidence is "as high as it's ever been" four months removed from hooking a last-minute, 32-yard field goal that would've tied the AFC Championship Game in New England. NFL history says that will be tough to do.
After Norwood missed a 47-yarder that would've won the Super Bowl in January 1991, he struggled with a career-worst 62.1 success rate the next season and was out of football in 1992. After Anderson missed a game-clinching, 38-yard field goal in the fourth quarter of the 1998 NFC Championship Game, he hit a career-low 63.3 percent of his field goals the next season.
So, why is Cundiff so confident? He points out two facts: that was his only miss in the playoffs for the Ravens (he had hit his previous 11 field goals) and he had been perfect in the fourth quarter all season (6-for-6 in the regular season).
"The situation was pretty unique," Cundiff said of the miss that sailed wide right with 11 seconds remaining. "I will learn what I can from it and keep my confidence high."
Cundiff hasn't had to hide or wear any disguises when he goes out in public in Baltimore. In fact, he was stopped by a cashier at Fresh Market Tuesday night who, instead of blaming him, suggested the coach should've called a timeout before the miss.
"[The response has] actually been really positive, to be perfectly honest with you," Cundiff said. "What's in the past is in the past. If you don't win the Super Bowl in this league, what you do really doesn't matter for the most part. You can take your stats and compare it against other people. If you're not helping your team win the big one, everybody is back to the drawing board the next year."
Cundiff's fall has been a dramatic one. He signed a five-year, $14.7 million contract after being a Pro Bowl kicker in 2010. He had connected on a career-best 26 field goals and set a team record with 44 touchbacks that season. Then, last season, he struggled with 10 missed field goals, all of which came on the road.
What topped off a season to forget was the miss in the AFC Championship Game, a kick that would've sent the game into overtime.
Cundiff said he didn't seek out Norwood or Anderson for advice.
"I wasn't looking for consoling. I wasn't looking for counseling," he said. "For me, it was one of those things where you meet it head on and move on."
Cundiff acknowledged he did receive help from a sports psychologist that he's seen since 2007, when he was out of the league.
"He's not there as a shrink. He's not there to analyze my emotions," Cundiff said. "He was one of the guys who was a big influence on me when I was out of football. We were constantly going on what I could improve on. When I got back into football, I was more mentally strong and that carried into the last couple of seasons. What happened in New England is what happened in New England. You move on and it doesn't change any of my preparation."
Cundiff added, "If anything, it shows I've got the confidence to keep going. I'm standing here. The team doesn't have [any other kicker] here. The team believes in me. The coach has been really positive with me throughout the whole offseason. Now, it's just a matter of continuing to get better."