Kicking momentum in gear: As Stover goes, so go Ravens

Three misses keep team from lead, tie or possible comeback in opener

Ravens Gameday

Colts 24, Ravens 7

September 12, 2005|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

Unfortunately for kicker Matt Stover, his performance controls the ebb and flow of emotions for the Ravens as much as anyone's.

Worse for Stover, that emotion stayed negative throughout the Ravens' 24-7 loss to the Indianapolis Colts last night at M&T Bank Stadium.

Stover's three missed field goals deflated his team a little bit more after every wide attempt. The first try (38 yards) would have given the Ravens an early lead; the second (47 yards) would have tied the game, and the third (45 yards), with the team down 17-0 in the fourth quarter, might have been the start of a spirited comeback.

"Anytime you miss a field goal, I look at it, as a place-kicker, as a momentum changer as well as a turnover," Stover said. "When you miss field goals, it's something that can definitely change the scope of a game. As you saw, when you miss three, you see what it can do to you, take away momentum."

For Stover, the game was a continuation of his experience last season against the Colts, when a 31-yard kick that could have brought the Ravens to within a touchdown in the second half was blocked. Stover missed three field-goal attempts all last season, connecting on 90 percent of his kicks.

"Sometimes a kicker just doesn't have it," Ravens coach Brian Billick said.

The last time Stover missed three field goals in a game was the opener of the 1998 season against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

It was a baffling start to a kicker who has an 82 percent average over a 15-year career. Stover showed no signs of slowing down during the preseason but did have to kick off in place of Wade Richey last night.

Richey was cut last week and could be re-signed this week. Stover said last week that kicking off would not be a problem, nor was the absence of long-time long snapper Joe Maese, who was released in favor of rookie Matt Katula.

Stover did not back off that after the game. The reasons for the miss? Stover said he simply kicked the first two too hard, and when he does that, the ball tends to go left. The third one he said he hit great, but the ball stayed straight before eventually floating wide right.

"They did a great job. It had nothing to do with the snap or the hold," Stover said. "That was on me."

Stover had not missed two field goals in a game since the 2002 season. He came back to make his final seven kicks that year, something Stover is holding on to.

"I've got to take that on the chin and come back against Tennessee," Stover said. "I've got to put this game in the books. I've had a game like this before, bounced back, and that's what I plan on doing. I'm a fighter, always will be. I apologize to the city of Baltimore for the performance, but we're going to come back. The next 15 games are going to be good games."

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