Sunday's game could come down to Cundiff

Kicker hit game-winner in OT last year vs. Steelers at M&T Bank Stadium

December 03, 2010|By Edward Lee, The Baltimore Sun

If history is any kind of indicator, Ravens kicker Billy Cundiff could play a significant role in Sunday night's showdown with the Pittsburgh Steelers at M&T Bank Stadium.

Four of the last five regular-season meetings between these bitter AFC North rivals have been decided by exactly three points. That tension could play out again, and if that's the case, Cundiff said he is ready.

"This is obviously the reason why I play the game," said Cundiff, who is 18-of-21 on field goals this season. "I want to be able to make a positive difference, and knowing that in this series that the games are tight, that's even more fun."

Cundiff had a hand in the outcome of last year's game in Baltimore, making a 29-yard field goal in overtime to lift the Ravens to a 20-17 win against Pittsburgh on Nov. 29.

The pressure can be overwhelming, but Cundiff said his thoughts prior to game-winning opportunities remain the same.

"For me, the goal is always the same. I've got to make kicks," he said. "Field-goal kicking is pretty cut and dry. I'm in one of the few positions where people can go out, watch the game, and know whether I've had a good game or not. There's really not a lot of subjectivity to it. 'Did you make it or did you miss it?' So the goal is always the same. Just go out there and make kicks."

Cundiff, who has two of his six career game-winning field goals with the Ravens, could be integral again.

"It should be a tight game – but we're hoping that it's not – in our favor," coach John Harbaugh said. "And we are just going to play as well as we can. But it will be a hard-fought game."

McClain, Mason return

Fullback Le'Ron McClain and wide receiver Derrick Mason returned to practice Friday, and declared themselves healthy enough to play Sunday night.

"I'm going to be ready for Sunday," said McClain, who is listed as questionable after not practicing Wednesday and Thursday because of a sprained left ankle sustained in the team's 17-10 win against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last Sunday. "It's just depends on the coaches and whether they want to use me Sunday or not. I know we've got the guys with the young tight ends stepping in and doing some great things. I know [offensive coordinator] Cam [Cameron] has got a plan if I'm playing and if I don't."

Although he was absent from the portion of practice open to the media, Mason fully practiced despite what he characterized as a minor cold.

"I felt sick somewhat," said Mason, who is probable. "I went out today, and it was good. I got an opportunity to run and kind of sweat some of it out."

Oher, Landry question marks

After fully practicing on Wednesday and Thursday, starting left tackle Michael Oher did not participate in Friday's session, the Ravens announced via their injury report.

Oher has been dealing with a sprained right knee suffered in the third quarter last Sunday. Oher, who did not speak with reporters after practice, is listed as questionable for Sunday night.

Strong safety Dawan Landry (concussion) was limited for the third consecutive day, and he is also questionable.

Right guard Chris Chester (bacterial leg infection) and rookie tight end Ed Dickson (hamstring) practiced fully for the third straight day, and they are probable.

Oher fined for Tweeting As he expected to be, Oher was fined $5,000 for violating the NFL's social media policy by accessing his Twitter account during the Ravens' game Sunday.

Oher deleted the tweet during the fourth quarter that he would play against the Steelers, but the league prohibits coaches and players from using social media like Twitter and Facebook 90 minutes before a game, during and shortly afterward.

"I'm pretty sure something's going to happen," Oher had said Wednesday.

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Chad Ochocinco was fined $25,000 for tweeting during a preseason contest in August, and teammate Terrell Owens was docked $5,000 for tweeting an hour before the Bengals and Buccaneers clashed Oct. 10.

Keeping pace with Wallace

In just his second year, Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace has begun to establish himself as one of the premier deep threats in the NFL.

The 24-year-old wideout leads the team in receiving yards (792) and touchdowns (8) and ranks second in catches (36). Wallace has become a reliable target for quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, especially when Roethlisberger extends plays and coverages begin to break down.

Ravens defensive coordinator Greg Mattison said Wallace's strongest asset is his speed.

"His 4.2 speed is what makes him a good receiver," Mattison said Thursday. "When you watch him when he comes off the football, you say, 'This guy's a good receiver.' But he doesn't look like other receivers until all of a sudden, he's running by guys. He's got really, really deceptive fast, fast speed."

End zone

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