Tag Archive | "billy cundiff"

Five numbers behind Ravens’ 23-21 win over Cleveland

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Five numbers behind Ravens’ 23-21 win over Cleveland

Posted on 23 September 2014 by Luke Jones

After every Ravens game this season, we’ll take a look at five numbers that help explain the outcome …

2 — The number of field goals missed by former Ravens kicker Billy Cundiff
Skinny: The Ravens were fortunate to come away with a win in Cleveland, and they can thank their former kicker for another wide-left try that brought back a not-so-pleasant memory. Cundiff’s second kick was blocked by Asa Jackson, but the Ravens defensive back acknowledged after the game that the attempt came out lower than normal. Both sides made mistakes that could have cost them the game, but Cundiff’s fourth-quarter misses were pivotal in keeping the Ravens within striking distance.

3 — The number of incompletions thrown by Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer on the final two drives
Skinny: Overall, it was a brutal day for the Ravens secondary as Hoyer completed 19 of 25 passes for 290 yards and a touchdown, but three of those six incompletions came on the Browns’ final two drives of the game when they simply needed some first downs to run out the clock. Instead, the Browns went three-and-out each time and the Ravens finally cashed in on their final drive to set up a game-winning 32-yard field goal by Justin Tucker. As poorly as the defense played for long stretches of Sunday’s game, the group was able to come up with two big stops when the Ravens needed them.

3.1 — The yards per carry allowed by the Ravens defense
Skinny: Baltimore’s outside linebackers still need to do a more consistent job of setting the edge, but a stout Cleveland running game found little room to work save for a handful of plays. Even though Hoyer played well, the Browns would have likely been able to put the game away had they ran with any consistency. Over Cleveland’s final two offensive drives, the Ravens gave up six rushing yards on three carries and forced two punts to keep their hopes alive. The front seven may not be getting enough pressure on opposing quarterbacks, but playing the run hasn’t been too large of a problem through three weeks.

75 — The number of receiving yards produced by Steve Smith in the fourth quarter
Skinny: Through three quarters, the 35-year-old wide receiver had caught just one pass for 26 yards on three targets, but that changed when Joe Flacco began looking his way often in the final 15 minutes. Targeted four times in the fourth quarter, Smith made four receptions and was the only receiver the Ravens quarterback trusted in crunch time. With Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones struggling to get acclimated in Gary Kubiak’s offense and Dennis Pitta exiting in the second quarter, Steve Smith’s ability to beat Pro Bowl cornerback Joe Haden for the 32-yard reception on the final drive was obviously the biggest play of the game.

157 — The number of rushing yards reached by the Baltimore offense for the second straight week
Skinny: The Ravens finished with 160 yards on 33 attempts, but hitting the 157-yard plateau in two straight games illustrates how far the running game has come under Kubiak. Baltimore ran for that many yards in a game just once (against Chicago) all last year, but a productive running game makes Flacco that much more efficient when he goes to the air. The Cleveland rush defense has been a mess this season, but it was nice to see the Ravens commit to the run despite starter Bernard Pierce being out and they learned Lorenzo Taliaferro can be a major contributor sooner rather than later.

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An Easter Sweet 16 of treats that were better than candy in the basket

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An Easter Sweet 16 of treats that were better than candy in the basket

Posted on 14 April 2014 by Nestor Aparicio

This one will be worthy of some bar room arguments this week but I was entrusted with identifying the 16 greatest games in Baltimore sports history. Passion. Drama. Great finishes. Memorable action on the field of play.

I wrote down a list of 30 great games and seeded them based on the significance of the outcome and the level of activity in the games and came up with a WNST.net Sweet 16 lost full of memories but not all them had happy endings.

Hey, a great game is a great game. All of these left me feeling like I got my monies worth.

Feel free to feedback below or via Twitter, Facebook or email (nasty@wnst.net).

 

16. Minnesota Vikings at Baltimore Ravens (Dec. 8, 2013)

It will take some more time to know how distance treats this recent classic, but it’s hard to top the only snow game in the franchise’s history going back and forth with five touchdowns in the final 2:05 of a 29-26 win for the Ravens over the Vikings. “Will we ever see another game like that again?” head coach John Harbaugh said. The answer to that is probably “no.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Tale of Two Cities

Posted on 28 August 2012 by derekandrews

As the Monday cuts have come and gone, one of the first notable cuts was Pro Bowl kicker Billy Cundiff. It took twenty-four hours for him to land on another team’s roster. The Washington Redskins added their 17th kicker in 18 years. Is it a case of another team’s cut is another team’s treasure? And did the Ravens make the best personnel decision by choosing a rookie over a proven veteran? You decide!

The kicker position is known to be a replaceable position, so if you don’t have the last name “Vinatieri,” then you can bet that at any time, the kicker on the team has to display flawless effort during training camp and in games or another kicker will replace them. Billy Cundiff’s replacement, Justin Tucker, has been accurate in all of his field goal attempts, has shown great upside and ability, and bottom-line, replacing Cundiff saves the Ravens organization millions of dollars. These reasons alone justify the move. Tucker’s accuracy has been noted during the preseason, yielding a 94% on field goal attempts and has wowed the fans with a 53-yard field goal in the third preseason game against Jacksonville. This kick sealed the Ravens’ coaching staff’s decision to keep Tucker over Cundiff.

Last season put Cundiff on the hot seat after missing a critical field goal in the AFC Championship game. After the game, Cundiff had unbelievable support from his teammates and from the organization. It reminds me in baseball, how managers’ days are numbered when they get those first votes of confidence from ownership; just ask Bobby Valentine (His time is on the horizon). On the other hand, the fans were not as lenient. He didn’t stand a chance in this Ball-So-Hard nation. Every sports station in Baltimore was flooded with calls of dissent asking for Cundiff to be cut. The fans’ wish has come to true and now it’s the rookie’s opportunity to make a mark on this season. His fate will be determined either way: success or being replaced. It all boils down to having made more field goal attempts, especially in crucial moments.

Cundiff’s proven record is what makes a case for why the Ravens should have retained him. According to Cundiff, in two years, he has a Pro Bowl under his belt, is 90% inside the 50-yard line, and with all touchbacks combined, has lead the league in touchbacks and has made 12 for 13 in field goal attempts in postseason play. During this preseason, he is 2-for-2 in field goal attempts. The Ravens didn’t think, however, it was enough to retain his services.

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Tucker right back to work after winning kicking job for Ravens

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Tucker right back to work after winning kicking job for Ravens

Posted on 27 August 2012 by Luke Jones

Upon learning he had beaten out veteran Billy Cundiff to become the Ravens kicker, Justin Tucker couldn’t resist taking time to enjoy it.

Even if only for a moment before refocusing his efforts toward keeping the job the 22-year-old worked so hard to earn over the last three months.

“Probably for about a minute I got a chance to celebrate and call everyone in my family and a few of my good friends from school and let them know some good news,” Tucker said. “Right after that, you have to put your head down and get right back to work.”

It’s that attitude — along with a powerful, deadly-accurate right leg — that impressed coach John Harbaugh and special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg enough to make the difficult decision to part with Cundiff and instill their faith in a young man who’s never made as much as an extra point in an NFL game.

After spending the last six weeks as the hunter, Tucker’s standing with the Ravens now resets. Making 60-yard field goals during practices in Owings Mills or a 53-yarder against the Jacksonville Jaguars in August will win you the starting job, but those feats do nothing to insure the rookie will keep the starting job long-term.

Fortunes can turn quickly. Just ask the 2010 Pro Bowl kicker who finds himself unemployed less than two years later.

Tucker is seeing it firsthand as friends and teammates struggle to carve out spots on the 53-man roster, with some of them already having been told they weren’t good enough.

“I was just telling a couple of the other guys that it gets real, really fast,” Tucker said. “There are 90 guys here over the weekend, and after today, there [are] 75. So, it is pretty crazy how fast it all happens.”

As confident as Harbaugh and the Ravens are in Tucker’s ability, the reality is no one knows whether he will be able to handle the job. Admittedly in the best groove of his kicking career this summer, Tucker hasn’t dealt with the scrutiny that accompanies a rough stretch in which he misses a couple fields goals he’s expected to make.

But the coaching staff is betting that the maturity he exuded throughout the kicking competition will carry over if and when he pushes a 41-yarder wide right or has a 54-yard game-winning attempt blocked by a defensive lineman.

It happens to the best of them. The Ravens just hope it doesn’t come in the closing seconds of the AFC Championship game again.

“When you have a bad play or the momentum swings against you, you brush it off and you move on to the next one,” Harbaugh said. “That’s the same for kickers. I think he has what it takes to do that.”

Whether it’s unbreakable confidence or simply the naivety of a rookie, Tucker says he doesn’t think about failure. Depending on how you view it, the fact that he can’t recall any notable period at Texas in which he struggled might be a dangerous omen or the reflection of a young man who’s fortunate enough not to realize how difficult it can be to kick in the NFL.

As he’s done throughout the summer, Tucker intends to keep his focus on the next attempt, regardless of how high the stakes are raised in two weeks.

“[I] just think positively,” Tucker said. “And going back to what I’ve said about 100 times: ‘Just keep it simple, and take it one kick at a time.’ That’s all you can do.”

His collegiate career with the Longhorns figures to aid Tucker more than the typical rookie kicker’s college experience. Playing in front of 100,000 fans in Austin or making a 40-yard game-winner on the road against rival Texas A&M is as close as it gets to proper training for life as a kicker in the NFL.

CONTINUE >>>

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Tucker Wins Kicking Battle

Posted on 27 August 2012 by jeffreygilley

With 29 seconds to go in the 2012 AFC Championship, The Baltimore Ravens faced a second down with one yard to go.  Joe Flacco had outperformed Tom Brady the entire game and made perhaps the greatest throw of his professional career considering the circumstances.  But, as everyone knows, Lee Evans dropped the pass that would have sent the Ravens to their second Super Bowl birth in their short existence.

Even though Evans dropped the pass, Billy Cundiff, a Pro Bowl kicker in 2010 had the opportunity to tie the game with a 32-yard field goal.  Instead, Cundiff pulled the kick left and the Patriots advanced to the Super Bowl.  Who knows what would have happened if the Ravens advanced to the Super Bowl but Billy Cundiff was on thin ice from that moment on.

When training camp started, the job seemed to be Cundiff’s by default.  Instead, Cundiff struggled throughout camp while rookie free agent Justin Tucker excelled.  Cundiff seemed to be on his way out when he did not play in the third preseason game against the Jaguars, which is traditionally the warm up game for all NFL teams.

While Tucker has been impressive, it is only the preseason.  What if the Ravens come upon the same situation this season?  Would you really trust a rookie over a proven and established kicker?

In the end, the Ravens front office is among the best on football and they should be trusted in their decisions.

 

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Your Monday Reality Check: Congrats kid, now don’t miss

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Your Monday Reality Check: Congrats kid, now don’t miss

Posted on 27 August 2012 by Glenn Clark

I probably should’ve saved a few hundred of the words I spent on last week’s missive about the Baltimore Ravens’ kicking competition.

Hey, at least I’m going to save you from a story about my 16th birthday party. (Although if you really want to know the details you can always feel free to email me. I always have stories.)

I’m glad our own Drew Forrester has taken the time to commend former K Billy Cundiff over and over again for how he handled himself after missing a crucial kick that cost the team a chance to send the AFC Championship Game to overtime. Drew has been right to point out that Cundiff could have made excuses, could have dodged reporters, could have gone into hiding and waited to hear his fate after an underwhelming season.

He didn’t do that. He manned up. It truly is commendable.

There’s a caveat to our praise however. The fact is that we all know that if Cundiff had made the kick and then given the Heisman to media members postgame we wouldn’t have batted an eye.

The fact is that the only thing any of us (rightly) care about was that in a situation where a team (and a city) counted on one player to do their job, the job wasn’t done.

We’ve been through this exercise repeatedly in the months since the Ravens fell just short of a Super Bowl return. I actually have no interest whatsoever in reliving that moment and determining what happened or who deserves blame. I’m just reminding everyone that while Drew is right to commend Billy Cundiff, there’s an obvious reason why such praise isn’t prevailing throughout Charm City to start the week.

I could not begin to tell you whether or not the Ravens made the right decision by releasing Cundiff Sunday and sticking with rookie K Justin Tucker for the 2012 season. I understand the reasoning behind the decision (I’m pretty sure I made a compelling argument for both specialists last Monday) and support the organization in making the move.

I also fought off the urge to headline this column “Good Tuck, kid” so I feel like I deserve a bit of credit here.

Tucker has a great opportunity to establish himself as an above average kicker for a franchise finally moving past the significant shadow of Matt Stover. Tucker has the opportunity to not just make crucial kicks for the Ravens in 2012, but perhaps also for future Ravens teams both competing for Super Bowl titles and (unfortunately) just trying to stay afloat in the AFC North.

Based on my early conversations with Tucker (the most recent of which-from last Wednesday’s episode of “The Reality Check” on AM1570 WNST.net-can be heard in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault), I have every reason to believe Tucker is aware of the opportunity in front of him. He seems like an intelligent young man with what we can already tell is an exceptionally capable leg.

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One final “thank you” to Billy Cundiff for what I saw in New England last January

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One final “thank you” to Billy Cundiff for what I saw in New England last January

Posted on 26 August 2012 by Drew Forrester

I remember that scene like it was yesterday.

Ed Reed put on a pair of wildy oversized headphones, threw his bag over his shoulder and started singing a song about Jesus as he exited the Ravens locker room out of small back door that concealed the fact he was leaving without addressing the media.

Lee Evans sat at his locker, uniform still on, staring straight ahead, saying nothing.  It struck me for a moment that perhaps a player or two might literally have to undress him and force him into the shower so the plane could eventually leave the airport in Boston.

Joe Flacco dressed quietly, but his face didn’t show any obvious signs of distress.  He’s always Captain Cool, even in the midst of the second excruciating AFC championship of his young career.

And Sam Koch held court with a few members of the media, repeating time after time, “everything was fine…right up until the ball was kicked…then I don’t know what happened.”  His voice trailed off as he realized how close the Ravens had come to forcing overtime with the now-famous 32 yard “chip shot” that Billy Cundiff pulled wide left in the waning seconds of last January’s 23-20 loss to New England.

I remember Matt Birk saying to me, “I feel sorry for these guys.  They busted their ass all year.  And today.  We took it down to the last second.  It just wasn’t meant to be.”  I loved that Birk said “I feel sorry for these guys” as if he was watching over them.

But the thing I remember most about the aftermath of that loss?

Billy Cundiff.

Unlike Reed, who snuck out, Cundiff busted through the doors of the interview room and said – in so many words – “here I am”.

Cundiff then addressed the media for upwards of 20 minutes, answering every question with dignity and grace in the heat of what certainly was his toughest moment as a professional athlete.

(Please see next page) 

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Ravens continue trimming roster down to 75

Posted on 26 August 2012 by Luke Jones

After news broke that they had waived veteran kicker Billy Cundiff earlier Sunday, the Ravens continued trimming their preseason roster from 90 players down to 75.

The most notable of the eight other players to be waived Sunday was tight end Davon Drew, who was a 2009 fifth-round pick of the Ravens but never established himself as a legitimate NFL player in Baltimore. Drew entered training camp as the favorite to win the third tight end job behind Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta. However, he failed to take advantage of increased reps after the two tight ends went down with injuries this summer and was supplanted by veteran tight end Billy Bajema on the totem pole.

The Ravens also announced they had waived wide receivers Devin Goda and Patrick Wiliams, offensive lineman Addison Lawrence, center Cecil Newton, cornerback Jordan Maybin, long snapper Patrick Scales, and quarterback Chester Stewart.

Newton is the brother of Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton.

The roster currently stands at 81 players and must be down to 75 by 4 p.m. Monday.

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Ravens release kicker Cundiff, award job to rookie Tucker

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Ravens release kicker Cundiff, award job to rookie Tucker

Posted on 26 August 2012 by Luke Jones

What appeared all but imminent became official Sunday morning as the Ravens released kicker Billy Cundiff, meaning rookie Justin Tucker has won the job for the 2012 season.

The news was first reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter as the 2010 Pro Bowl kicker will not receive the opportunity to atone for his 32-yard miss in the AFC Championship game last January that would have sent the Ravens to overtime in Foxborough.

The writing appeared on the wall for the 32-year-old Cundiff after coach John Harbaugh elected to have Tucker handle all kicking duties in the Ravens’ 48-17 preseason win over the Jacksonville Jaguars Thursday. Tucker connected on field goals from 33 and 53 yards while Cundiff watched from the sidelines, and Harbaugh’s comments since had been anything but a ringing endorsement for the incumbent kicker.

“Billy had a great camp, the best he has had with us,” Harbaugh said in a team statement. “He showed, like he always has, a toughness and an ability to come back and be a top-flight NFL kicker. These decisions are never easy, and this one was difficult for all of us – Ozzie [Newsome], Jerry [Rosburg] and me.

“Of course, that says something about Justin [Tucker], the way he has kicked and our belief in him. But, that does not say something less about Billy. Billy was ready in every way to be our kicker. He’ll kick in the NFL. He’s a very good kicker and an even better person.”

Tucker is 5-for-5 in the preseason and made 40 of 48 field goal attempts in his career at Texas.

Cundiff performed well during training camp and the preseason, but it was clear the rookie from Texas had kicked even better in his opportunities. While Cundiff will forever be defined in Baltimore by his miss against the Patriots, he struggled in 2011 while making 28 of 37 kicks during the regular season — all misses coming on the road — and was only 1-for-6 on tries from 50-plus yards.

The veteran was frustrated following Thursday’s preseason game as it appeared he knew his time was running out with the Ravens.

“Regardless of my track record, if you look at it in the last two years as a full-time kicker, inside of 50 yards, I’m about 90 percent,” Cundiff said. “If you look at the playoffs, I’m [11 of 12 in three seasons in Baltimore]. In the last two years, if you take all of my touchbacks combined, I have more touchbacks than anybody else in the league. I feel as if that’s not good enough, then I’ll take my services elsewhere.”

In January 2011, the Ravens signed Cundiff to a five-year, $15 million contract that included a $3 million signing bonus. Releasing Cundiff clears his $2.2 million base salary from the cap this season — with a $600,000 cap hit remaining — but now leaves $1.8 million in dead money for the 2013 salary cap.

With Tucker reportedly making $390,000 this season, the Ravens will roughly save $1.8 million on the 2012 salary cap with this decision.

The Ravens must trim their preseason roster from 90 players to 75 by 4 p.m. Monday. The final cut-down to 53 players must take place by 9 p.m. Friday evening.

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Sizing up the Ravens roster after the third preseason game

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Sizing up the Ravens roster after the third preseason game

Posted on 25 August 2012 by Luke Jones

With the “dress rehearsal” of the preseason now in the books for the Ravens, it’s time to take another look at projecting the 53-man roster for the first time since the aftermath of the first preseason game.

My current look at the roster suggests 42 players are locks — not including either of the two place kickers on the preseason roster — if the deadline to trim the roster to 53 took place today. My rough assessment of the 90 players currently on the roster lists 21 players on the bubble. Not all bubble players are on equal footing, with certain positions lacking quality depth and others enjoying an abundance of talent.

The latest projection includes six new players making the final 53-man roster with one spot opening up due to Emanuel Cook’s season-ending injury and five others previously projected to make the roster now finding themselves on the outside looking in.

Though general manager Ozzie Newsome, coach John Harbaugh, and the remainder of the coaching staff and front office are cognizant of the number of players at each position, trying to pinpoint a specific number of wide receivers or linebackers isn’t the most accurate way of projecting the roster. Especially with the increased emphasis on boosting the lackluster special teams from a season ago, the Ravens will look carefully at players’ other abilities in addition to what they bring to their specific positional group.

The Ravens must trim the roster from 90 players to 75 by 4 p.m. on Monday and will go down to the regular-season number of 53 by the 9 p.m. deadline on Friday.

The numbers in parentheses indicate the total number of players currently on the roster at that given position. Bubble players’ names that are underlined are currently on my projected 53-man roster as of Aug. 25.

QUARTERBACKS (4)
LOCK: Joe Flacco, Tyrod Taylor
BUBBLE: Curtis Painter
LONG SHOT: Chester Stewart
Skinny: Taylor’s strong performance against Jacksonville quieted any silly notions that Painter was pushing him for the backup job. That was never the case, but the second-year quarterback looked more comfortable in the pocket after two uneven performances.

RUNNING BACKS & FULLBACKS (6)
LOCK: Ray Rice, Bernard Pierce, Vonta Leach
BUBBLE: Bobby Rainey, Anthony Allen
LONG SHOT: Damien Berry
Skinny: Pierce has shown enough to quell concerns about the backup running back job, but the Ravens could still be looking for a short-yardage back since Allen has been such a disappointment this preseason. Rainey has surpassed Allen for a roster spot after receiving work with the starting unit while the 2011 seventh-round pick didn’t even receive a carry against Jacksonville.

WIDE RECEIVERS (12)
LOCK: Anquan Boldin, Torrey Smith, Jacoby Jones, LaQuan Williams, Tandon Doss
BUBBLE: Deonte Thompson, Tommy Streeter
LONG SHOT: Logan Payne, Dorian Graham, Patrick Williams, Devin Goda
INJURED: David Reed (will begin season on physically unable to perform list and not count against the 53-man roster)
Skinny: Considering Streeter didn’t receive any action until late in the second half, it’s clear he’s lagging behind Thompson in the race for the sixth spot — assuming there is a sixth one — on the final roster. It wouldn’t surprise me if Streeter’s foot injury lands him on injured reserve at this point, but his chances of making the team are remote.

TIGHT ENDS (6)
LOCK: Ed Dickson, Dennis Pitta
BUBBLE: Billy Bajema, Matt Balasavage
LONG SHOT: Bruce Figgins, Davon Drew
Skinny: The veteran Bajema is in line for the third tight end job while the rookie free agent Balasavage has moved past Drew in the race for a spot. Though Balasavage has shown some skill as a receiver, Bajema’s ability to block helps his cause for the job.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (16)
LOCK: Matt Birk, Marshal Yanda, Bobbie Williams, Michael Oher, Bryant McKinnie, Kelechi Osemele, Gino Gradkowski, Jah Reid
BUBBLE: Ramon Harewood, Justin Boren, Tony Wragge
LONG SHOT: Jack Cornell, Cecil Newton, Antoine McClain, Addison Lawrence, Cord Howard
Skinny: With Reid still dealing with the calf injury and Osemele now receiving more extensive work at guard, Harewood could grab a roster spot instead of Boren to boost the Ravens’ depth at offensive tackle. However, he might only be a short-term option until Reid recovers and the Ravens can devote the roster spot elsewhere.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (11)

CONTINUE >>>

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