And no matter…Rosburg wasn’t going to take this moment to alter Cundiff’s routine. Kickers are strange human beings. Not strange in a bad way, but they’re unique in that they establish a routine or a pre-kick system and they go with it without alteration.
Did it dawn on Rosburg to go over to Cundiff as the Ravens were driving down the field and say to him, “You’re paying attention here, right? We might need you in 30 seconds.”? Never. It never dawned on Rosburg to do that because, as he noticed while getting his special teams unit assembled, Cundiff and Koch and Cox were each in the middle of their pre-kick routine. In other words, when Rosburg sized up the prep work being done by the snapper, holder and kicker, it appeared to him that they were a well-oiled machine. He had no idea that Cundiff and Koch both thought the game was a play behind where it actually was.
Moments later, when the ball to Pitta was knocked away and 4th down came around, Rosburg called for the kicking team, but didn’t see Cundiff standing next to him, where he normally would be on 3rd down, getting ready to enter the field if the 3rd down play didn’t yield a first down.
So Rosburg barked for Cundiff and that’s when the kicker raced out onto the field. Both Cundiff and punter/holder Sam Koch said they ran on the field, looked at the scoreboard, and wondered why they were being called for duty when it was only 3rd down.
At this moment, you’re asking for Harbaugh to call a time-out, right?
But when Harbaugh looked on the field, he saw Cundiff and Koch running toward their spot on the field and assumed all was well.
Sure, the play clock was ticking down, but it wasn’t as if there were 10 seconds left when the process began. Cundiff started to run on the field with 21 seconds left on the play clock. The usual snap-hold-kick routine takes just under 8 seconds. TV replays show the routine started at the 10 second mark and the ball was in Koch’s hands as the clock reached “1″.
Cundiff missed the kick.
Was his routine thrown off? Absolutely.
Would a time-out have helped there? Perhaps.
But, as Koch and long snapper Morgan Cox told me after the game in the locker room, they have their routine refined down to the last detail — and that includes practicing a “rush job” every single week during the season for moments just like the one they encountered on Sunday evening.
To their credit, it was all pulled off without a hitch. Cox snapped it, Koch held it, and Cundiff kicked it. And missed. (Please see next page)