Richardson remembers to forget blocked punts

Kicker's only concern is next attempt Sunday

January 12, 2001|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

Super Bowl?

What Super Bowl?

The three blocks the last two weeks?

Forgot about them.

Kyle Richardson said his next punt for the Ravens is his only concern, that the future will take care of itself and that he can't change the past. He isn't pondering the stakes of Sunday's AFC championship game at Oakland, and he sure isn't dwelling on the punt team's recent problems. Richardson said as soon as he gets blocked, he moves on and prepares for his next attempt. With three blocked punts in the postseason, there has been plenty to forget.

"No matter what happens, you have to have a short-term memory and come back on the next punt," Richardson said. "That [a block] happened, we're not going to let it happen again. If it happens again, then you just keep recovering from that. Even if I have a good punt, I still have to come back and do the same thing. Good or bad, I have to make sure that the next punt is a good one.

"As a kid, and learning how to do this in college, one of the things that was difficult was going from one punt to the next: `That was a good one, but what about the next one?' That's what keeps a guy around the league. Don't worry about the past. Control what you can."

Richardson used that mind-set in Sunday's improbable divisional playoff win at Tennessee.

His second kick was recorded as a 31-yarder, but that pooch punt was downed on the Titans' 3-yard line and led to the Ravens' only offensive touchdown of the game. After Richardson's third and fourth attempts were blocked, the offense stalled again, but Richardson responded with a 51-yarder that pinned Tennessee on its 6-yard line. The Titans went three and out, and the Ravens needed just one first down to tie the game on a Matt Stover field goal.

Denver got to one of Richardson's attempts in the wild-card game, but before the playoffs, getting blocked had not been a concern for him in Baltimore. He came here as a second-year pro in 1998, when two of his 90 attempts were blocked. Only one of Richardson's 103 attempts was blocked last season, when he set an NFL record with 39 punts downed inside the 20. This regular season, he kicked 86 times without a block.

Richardson said he hasn't changed his rhythm in the postseason, and coach Brian Billick pointed to breakdowns in blocking schemes for Sunday's failures. Solidifying them has become paramount, since Oakland posted three blocks in the regular season. The Raiders are considered as dangerous in that department as any team in the NFL.

If anything, Richardson said the playoff punting woes should ensure better efficiency Sunday.

"Sometimes, when those things happen, that makes guys more alert than ever before," Richardson said. "I'm going to trust in the fact that guys are going to be more sensitive towards the blocked punt than ever before. It should never be a problem again.

"They [the Titans] slipped some guys in there and got some blocks, and that opened up some avenues for other teams to look at against us. Obviously, I'm sure that's what Oakland is going to be doing, pinning back their ears. There's a flip side to that. If they do rush eight guys, that means they're leaving our outside guys open, and they can release downfield. We're going to block it up. We've made our corrections. We're going to be just fine."

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