My final look at “Scoreboard Gate” in New England

January 25, 2012 | Drew Forrester

Who gets the blame?

Cundiff has accepted it all, saying over and over, “I’ve made that kick a thousand times.  I just missed this one.”

Harbaugh could have called a time-out, but as I explained above, he wasn’t really aware that Cundiff (and Koch) were confused by the scoreboard.  And once they started out on the field with the clock ticking down from 21…to 20…to 19…it appeared to Harbaugh that this routine wasn’t anything out of the ordinary.

Cundiff, too, could have called a time-out, but as he explained afterwards, “I just figured we’d move things along a little more quickly and I’d have to be ready a second or two earlier than normal.”

It turns out the kick and the result would be anything but normal.

Everyone around town is trying to find someone to blame.  Someone has to wear the scarlet letter – “M” for miss – and deal with the aftermath of being the guy who cost the Ravens a possible trip to the Super Bowl.

There’s no way we can tuck away the final moments of the 2011 season without having someone to fire, or cut, or chastise.

What happened at the end of the game is something that will never be duplicated again.


You can blame the Boldin fumble that had some people confused, the scoreboard snafu, the Evans “strip”, the Flacco incompletion to Pitta, Rosburg’s inability to see that the scoreboard had the wrong set of downs displayed, the failure of Harbaugh to understand that Cundiff was confused, or Cundiff himself for misfiring on the biggest kick of his career.

And you can certainly say “someone should have called a time-out”.  But these men work under pressure every day of their lives.  To their trained eye – and I’m talking about Harbaugh and Cundiff here – things might have looked a little out of whack as the kicker settled into his spot, but they practice being under pressure all the time.

There’s no doubt that all of the circumstances I reviewed above contributed to Baltimore losing on Sunday night.

It’s the worst perfect-storm in the history of the Ravens.

IF only the scoreboard would have accurately portrayed what down it was.

IF only Lee Evans would have held onto the ball for another half-second or so.

IF only Joe Flacco would have scooted a few yards for a first down when given the chance .

IF only Billy Cundiff would have somehow realized it wasn’t 3rd down, but 4th instead.

IF only he would have made the kick.

I know you want someone to take the blame.

I’m not sure what happens when someone DOES take the blame…like Cundiff has.  Do you want him cut?  What about Harbaugh?  What’s his punishment for not calling a time-out?  What to do with Rosburg, the man in charge of the unit that failed at the end?  Does he get the boot if you’re running the team?

We do this a lot – as sports fans, or sports analysts.  We look for someone to blame.  But what happens AFTER we’ve figured out who to finger for the failure?  Fire Harbaugh?  Fire Rosburg?  Cut Cundiff?  I don’t think anyone deserves to be fired or cut, but I will acknowledge that my thirst for blood probably doesn’t equal yours.

What about the scoreboard operator in New England?  What happens with him/her?

I’m as sick as anyone about how Sunday night unfolded, but I’m here to tell you that there’s absolutely no one in particular to blame for the failed kick at the end except for the guy who did the kicking.  It’s Cundiff’s job to kick that ball through the uprights and he didn’t do it.  I wouldn’t cut him if I ran the team…not for one miss.  I accept his explanation about his altered routine, since the Ravens have confirmed the scoreboard faux pas by virtue of watching the “All-22” video that shows every play in the game along with the down and distance of the scoreboard.  If you’re looking to say, “This is how the kick was missed”, just point the finger at Cundiff and say, “He didn’t get the job done.”

Cundiff is more than willing to take the blame, as kickers often do.

Or…you can blame anyone or anything else, because that’s usually what fans do.

I get it.

It was a helluva way to lose a championship game.

You’ll never see something like that happen again, guaranteed.