Last season, Ravens kicker Billy Cundiff missed quite possibly one of the biggest field goals in franchise history when he missed a 32-yard field goal that would’ve taken the Ravens into overtime against the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game. While all of this would’ve been avoided if Lee Evans just held onto the ball in the end zone, it can’t go unnoticed that Cundiff was not the same player he was two years ago.
Cundiff was significantly worse this past season and it reminded fans as to why he’s played for 9 different teams in the league. While he had similar numbers in terms of touchbacks, his field goal percentage took a significant hit. In 2010, Cundiff converted on 26 of his 29 field goal attempts good for an 89.7%. In 2011, he converted on 28 of his 37 field goal attempts for a percentage of 75.7%. While he did make more field goals, he tripled the amount of field goals he missed from the previous year. He missed two short field goals against Cleveland and also converted only one of his six field goal attempts from beyond 50 yards. At times, I found myself begging for Matt Stover to come back because while he didn’t have the leg, he had the consistency that Cundiff appears to lack.
In order to appease the problem and light a fie under Cundiff, the Ravens decided to bring in undrafted free agent kicker Justin Tucker. Out of 48 field goal attempts at the University of Texas, Tucker missed only eight of them. He has shown consistency throughout his college career, but will it translate to the pros? Will he win the job? Who knows. It all depends on if Cundiff is willing to take charge and grab a hold of it.
I’m honestly shocked Cundiff returned to the Ravens, football for that matter, after all of the hatred and humiliation directed his way after missing that kick. What people fail to see is that while he was inconsistent last year, the Ravens didn’t lose the AFC Championship because of him, it just looks that way because he was the last person to touch the ball. If anything, John Harbaugh has to take a brunt of the blame for leaving a timeout on the board as Cundiff rushed onto the field trying to beat the play clock.
While that is neither here nor there, I expect Cundiff to win the job. However, don’t expect Tucker to not either give him a run for his money, or if he performs well enough, earn a roster spot. With the kickoffs moving back to the 30 this year, it will also be interesting to see if Cundiff returns to 2010 form in terms of touchback numbers, but fans hope to see more consistency putting the ball through the uprights no matter the distance.
Follow me @HI_IM_JEEF on Twitter.