Monday, September 24, 2012
Ravens hold breath on winning field goal
By Jamison Hensley
BALTIMORE -- There were different stakes and a different kicker. Still, there was the same anxiety over a Ravens last-second field goal against the Patriots.
Eight months ago, Billy Cundiff's 32-yard field goal attempt that could have tied the AFC Championship Game hooked badly. On Sunday night, rookie Justin Tucker's 27-yard field goal sliced just inside the right upright to give the Ravens a 31-30 win as time expired.
Asked if he was worried about Tucker's kick, coach John Harbaugh said, "If I was, I would not admit it."
Quarterback Joe Flacco, who was waiting his turn to speak to reporters, chimed in by saying, "I was."
Some Patriots believe the Ravens missed the field goal just like in the AFC Championship Game. Patriots defensive tackle Vince Wilfork berated the replacement officials for not reviewing the kick.
"In a game like this, you have to," Wilfork said. "They ran off the field. So it is what it is. I’m not going to sit here and pick a fight with those guys. They have a job to do, we have a job to do. The only thing we can do is play better and try not to be in those situations."
Shortly after the game, former head of officiating Mike Pereira explained that the officials followed the right protocol.
"A FG that goes over the top of an upright is not reviewable because you cannot determine when exactly the ball is directly over the pole," Pereira posted on Twitter. "So that's the rule. I can't tell good or not. But if I had to guess, I'd say it was good."
The Ravens opted to go with Tucker over Cundiff after the undrafted rookie out-kicked the 2010 Pro Bowl player this summer. There's always been a question about Tucker's inexperience because he has never had to deal with the drama of hitting the game-winner in the NFL.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick put all of the pressure he could on Tucker. He called a timeout to try to freeze Tucker, who made the kick routinely as the whistle blew. The second attempt didn't split the uprights down the middle.
"Bottom line is it went in," Tucker said of his first winning kick in the league. "That's all I care about. It went in."