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

August 26, 2012 | Drew Forrester

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

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.

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7 Comments For This Post

  1. The Armchair QB Says:

    Cundiff would have been justfied in second guessing the head coach’s decision not to take his last time out to better prepare for that important kick, but chose instead to take the high road by not offering any excuses. That shows character as well as class and my hunch is that he’ll help some other NFL team now that he’s a free agent. One can only hope that Justin Tucker proves as valuable on both kickoffs and field goals as his predecessor. Human nature being what it is, one can also wonder at the reception Tucker will get when he misses his first field goal attempt……..

  2. unitastoberry Says:

    Billy is a class guy and this is really the best thing for him to get with another team for a fresh start. The writing was on the wall for him just as it was for Lee Evans. We all knew last January that both of those players could not return to Baltimore as Ravens ever again. Pro sports are brutal.Tucker can miss a kick here and there just not the ones with seconds left to win/tie games inside the 40 or he will find himself in the same situation. Somewhere Jim O’Brien is thinking that he would have made that kick because thats what field goal kickers have to do in the NFL.

  3. Paul from Towson Says:

    Drew, I couldn’t agree with you more. Unlike most, I was rooting for Cundiff this preseason. I wanted him to keep his job and, hopefully, get a shot at redemption come playoff time. He was a stand up guy before, during, and after that game in New England. Unlike certain other “leaders” on this team, Billy stood in front of the cameras and took his medicine with honor, and dignity. Two traits that are lost on most of today’s people. It’s a shame that Cundiff leaves Baltimore in the way he did, after all he did for this football team in the time he was here. I join you Drew, in saying Thank Your to Billy Cundiff, and hoping that he catches on somewhere soon, and continues his career with the professionalism and class he always showed us here.

  4. John in Westminster Says:

    I will always root for Billy. However,I feel this was more of a cap decision than a missed playoff field goal.

  5. justafan Says:

    Sure, everyone remembers the missed field goal in the AFC championship game, but I recall the game the Ravens played in Pittsburgh when Billy converted on a 50+ yards field goal as time expired in the first half. If he misses that kick, the Ravens may not have won. My point is that Billy Cundiff has made clutch field goals during his career and it is unfortunate that he had to miss with the AFC championship on the line. Indeed, if Lee Evans dosen’t drop a touchdown pass that would have won the game, Justin Tucker probably would not be the Ravens new field goal kicker today. I only hope Tucker can produce when the games begin to count.

  6. Marty Says:

    God Bless you Billy. You went against the grain here in America to take responability for something that you did, or didn’t do. Personally I think Haurbaugh dropped the ball on this one. Had he called the time and settle everything down perhaps, PERHAPS we would have gone into OT. But he didn’t and Billy missed a chip shot. I wish him all the luck and hope he gets picked up soon.

  7. Robert Says:

    Drew:

    Well stated, although I think it likely is best for Cundiff that he move on; I was hoping to get a chance to see him redeem himself sometime this season, a true hollywood moment. In the back of my mind a dubious thought lurks that makes me think about depending upon an unproven rookie for extra points & field goals & to quote the Star Wars movies: “I have a bad feeling about this”. I hope I’m wrong. Cheers.

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