New England defeats Baltimore 23-20 to win the AFC Championship and advance to Super Bowl XLVI
Baltimore Ravens kicker Billy Cundiff missed a game-tying field goal from 32 yards out with 11 seconds left on the clock to halt the Ravens chances of sending the game into overtime.
Billy Cundiff choked, plain and simple. It was a standard 32 yard field goal that most kickers in the NFL could make in their sleep. I understand the pressure of it being a playoff game and whatnot, but that kick should have been made.
Did his miss cost the Ravens a chance at overtime? Absolutely. Did it cost his team the win?
It’s easy to blame Cundiff in this situation. He missed a field goal that would have kept the Baltimore Ravens Super Bowl hopes alive. He made a 39 yard kick earlier in the game, so this 32 yard attempt should have been a cakewalk.
But even if he made the kick, what would that have meant? Sure, the Ravens would have gotten one more crack at a win in overtime, but would that have guaranteed them a victory? The New England Patriots could have just as easily won the game in the extra time, so saying Billy Cundiff cost the Ravens the win doesn’t make sense to me. Cundiff could have made the kick and the Ravens may have still lost the game.
With 22 seconds left in the game, Joe Flacco threw a 19 yard pass to Lee Evans in the end-zone which was caught and then stripped by Patriots defender Sterling Moore.
The defensive play by Moore was huge for New England, but Evans should have secured this catch. He played the ball very loose at the end of the play making the ball much more open to getting knocked out. I’m sure if Evans could go back in time, he would have held onto that football like it was a baby. If Evans secures that catch, the Baltimore Ravens are in the Super Bowl.
I’m also putting some blame on the shoulders of head coach John Harbaugh. As you can see in the clip, the play clock was clearly winding down on Billy Cundiff as he was preparing to kick the field goal. I’m sure if he had just a little more time to set up his feet and maybe even relax a little bit before such a big moment, that maybe this game would have ended with a different result. But how could he have gotten more time?
Well, with a timeout of course. A timeout which the Ravens still had. A timeout which the Ravens didn’t use.
That blunder is on Harbaugh. If you have a timeout remaining, you need to use it. It would have stopped the clock and allowed Cundiff more breathing room to make a game-tying field goal.
What all of this adds up to is Baltimore now being eliminated from the NFL playoffs. It’s a shame that a missed field goal had to end this game, but that’s the way the cookie crumbles in the NFL. The Ravens defense kept Tom Brady in check throughout the game and gave the team a great chance to win.
It just wasn’t meant to be on this day.
The championship window for Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Haloti Ngata and Terrell Suggs just got that much smaller.