When a lot of us were growing up and playing in organized and high school sports many of us started out by playing pick-up games in our driveways, for me it was hockey and like my friends we wore the jerseys of our heroes and emulated what they did on the ice. I think it’s safe to say that any pro athlete probably at one time or another had a ball in their grasp and ran in out of defenders while narrating to themselves that it was 3rd down with the game tied and the clock winding down with just a few seconds on the clock and their target was an end zone to win the Super Bowl, or at bat there were 2 outs, bases loaded and their team down by 3 in the ninth. Having relived this scenario over and over a select few found themselves in this situation only now with a professional team.
Billy Cundiff and Kyle Williams I’m sure had visions of winning the big one, just waiting when their number was called and suddenly it was time to live that scenario in real life. For Billy Cundiff, a place kicker for the Baltimore Ravens was asked to do something that for most from 32 yards was something he clearly exceeded during pre-game warm-ups but coach Harbaugh didn’t want to take the chance of putting Cundiff in a long FG situation so Joe Flacco moved the ball down field putting Cundiff in a virtual gimme FG from 32 yards away to send the game into OT. What did Cundiff do, he missed wide right, and when I say WIDE I mean he wasn’t even remotely close, he missed it miserably. Some blame Lee Evans for no catching that pass in the end zone while in coverage to simply end the game, but the video clearly showed the ball was stripped no sooner than it went into his grasp and he did not get his second foot down. So Cudiff, vying for the tie wasn’t able to deliver by doing the one job he was paid to do and paid handsomely to boot (no pun intended).
As I’ve said in previous comments this week, watching HBO Hard Knocks over the last few seasons the place kickers are only considered second class citizens, not required to study play books, they spend a minimum time in the weight room and during games they wait and wait for the chance to kick an extra point or a FG from as much as 50 yards. At 32 yards this was a no brainer or as so the entire planet had thought. He later claimed of chaos on the sidelines when the scoreboard had shown it was third down and when going into kick the FG he said the chaos was still making them hurry. If this was his only excuse it’s not really an excuse being he only had to call a timeout, Belichick saw this chaos and like most great coaches who ice kickers he felt that this very chaos was best left for the Ravens to deal with and they stood pat. The snap was good, the ball threads were rotated and the next thing you know it was so wide left it became a sideline souvenir!
Kyle Williams, who most feel deserves the tag team nod for this week’s Gold Plunger, I hear you and for his inability to carry a football on a professional level to keep it from being yanked away in the same fashion a homeless person would yank away a loaf of day old French bread, I have no problem whatsoever to give him the honorable mention here. But in the grand scheme of things Cundiff blew the low percentage boot, Williams was stripped by his inability to remember the basic fundamentals on tucking the ball to his chest, not juggling it from hand to hand as he tried to avoid the defense from bringing him down and trying to get the ball out o his hands late in the game.
Both of these guys cost their teams big, and in the locker room the politically correct statements were flying around on how it was a team loss, but the facial expressions on the sidelines for both the Ravens and the 49ers not to mention their fandom were worth a 1,000 words…What they said in front of a microphone I'm sure was not was said when they spoke to each other in small groups...with the game close to being in the bag for the 49ers I find it tough to believe they're all fine with carrying around the label of a team loss.
The Gab is sending Stickum to Williams to aid him in keeping the ball in his hands and Cundiff wll be getting a GPS used on measuring the distance for drives and shots on the golf course, this just might help with him lining up shots from here on out when he finds himself in the CFL kicking FG’s and kickoffs for the Toronto Argonauts or one of those other Canadian teams that tend to fill their rosters with the NFL’s has-beens!