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Thursday, September 12, 2013
No reason for rude reunion with Cundiff

By Jamison Hensley

Baltimore Ravens outside linebacker Terrell Suggs was asked if he was going to try to rattle Cleveland Browns kicker Billy Cundiff during the game by bringing up some painful memories.

"Billy and I have a good relationship, so I’m going to try and keep that the same," Suggs said. "Who knows? Maybe if he has to go out there and kill us, I may try to mess him up a little bit.”

Billy Cundiff
Billy Cundiff had made 11 straight field goals before missing a 32-yard attempt that would have tied the 2012 AFC Championship Game.
Cundiff returns to M&T Bank Stadium for his first regular-season game since missing that infamous 32-yard field goal in the final seconds of the 2012 AFC Championship Game.

Ravens players and fans should hold no hard feelings toward Cundiff for a couple of reasons. Cundiff should never take all of the blame for that miss, even though he hooked the short field goal very badly. If you remember, the Ravens had lost track of the downs in New England (thinking it was third down and not fourth down) and rushed the attempt. The Ravens could've called a timeout to have more time to set up for the critical kick.

The other part of the story is the Ravens have rebounded from that heartbreaking part of their history. The Ravens got their redemption in New England when they won the AFC Championship Game the next year and went on to capture the Super Bowl. Cundiff, meanwhile, hasn't enjoyed the same success. The former Pro Bowl kicker is on his fourth team in two seasons.

Ravens coach John Harbaugh said he hopes to talk to Cundiff before Sunday's game.

"Billy [Cundiff] is a very good kicker, and Billy made a lot of kicks, especially at M&T [Bank Stadium]. I don’t know if he ever missed here," Harbaugh said. "He’s kicked off really well for them so far. He’ll be another guy who is on the other side for this game, but I’ve got a lot of respect for him.”

In a way, Cundiff is coming back home, at least in a kicking sense. Baltimore is where he enjoyed his only Pro Bowl season (2010) and greatest success. Cundiff made 43 of 48 field goals at M&T Bank Stadium while he was with the Ravens, including a perfect 17-for-17 in 2012.

The Ravens had all intentions to stick with Cundiff as their kicker last season even after that dramatic playoff miss. His only competition in the preseason was undrafted rookie Justin Tucker. Cundiff had a solid training camp, but Tucker had a surprisingly spectacular one.

The Ravens decided to cut Cundiff last August, and it turned out to be the right decision. Tucker connected on 90.9 percent of his field goals, which was the second-best mark in franchise history and the second-best by a rookie kicker in NFL history. While Tucker and Cundiff didn't remain in contact, Tucker still uses some of Cundiff's technique on kickoffs.

Cundiff eventually landed with Washington at the start of last season, but he was released after missing on five of 12 field-goal attempts in the first five games. He acknowledged he didn't get back on track after the AFC Championship Game miss.

“I think that's kind of a good way to put it," Cundiff told Cleveland reporters last week. “Nothing really got back on track, but for me I continued to build on my skills. Obviously things didn't work out the way I wanted to in the AFC Championship Game. There's a lot of things you can learn from that, but also a lot of things you can learn from the road that I've traveled."

Cundiff, 33, spent training camp with the New York Jets before getting cut on Aug. 27. A week later, he was signed by Cleveland.

The Browns aren't concerned about how Cundiff will react in this reunion with Baltimore.

"He’ll approach this game as he does any other game, I’m sure," Browns coach Rob Chudzinski said. "And obviously, he was with the Ravens and has the history there, but it’s no different. This game is its own game, and that’s how we’ll approach it.”