Baltimore Sun columnist Mike Preston answers a selection of reader questions about the Ravens' 23-20 loss to the New England Patriots in the AFC championship game, how the team should move forward in the offseason, and much more.
Ron H.: Super Bowl berth hanging in the balance, why didn't the refs at least review the pass to Lee Evans that was ruled incomplete? I thought all you had to do for a touchdown was possess the ball and get two feet down. He not only caught the ball, but took two steps before it was stripped. Did you think it was a touchdown?
Mike Preston: Sorry, he didn't get the second foot down with possession of the ball. Evans also knew it because he didn't argue the call. Usually when players think the call was wrong, they get vocal, start running around and motion to the coach to throw the flag. Evans jogged back to the huddle like a little puppy who got caught using the bathroom on the carpet. Sometimes NFL players forget the basic rules, the fundamentals. You catch the ball with your hands and immediately tuck it away. He let the ball hang out too long.
Peter: Billy Cundiff was running onto the field with nine seconds on the play clock. Why wouldn’t we call the timeout so he was prepared?
Mike Preston: Peter, maybe John Harbaugh should have called a timeout. Or maybe he didn't want to ice his kicker. But there is no excuse for Cundiff missing the field goal and he didn't make any. Kickers are hired to make field goals. That's all they do. I really don't want to hear anymore excuses, reasons, alibis, conspiracy theories, blah, blah, blah... He missed the damn field goal. That's it. Let's keep it simple and move on.
Anonymous: How do the Ravens move forward with Cundiff as their kicker? The guy missed a lot of big field goals this year, but the one at the end of the game can only be described as one of the biggest choke jobs ever. How can Harbaugh or the team have any trust in Cundiff again?
Mike Preston: Easy. They tell him to go out there and compete for the job just like every other player. If he is the best in training camp, then it's his job. Did the Ravens get rid of Jonathan Ogden when Dwight Freeney beat him? Did they get rid of Anquan Boldin when he dropped that touchdown pass in the end zone last season in the AFC divisional round against Pittsburgh? Did they get rid of cornerback Lardarius Webb when he gave up that big reception on third-and-18 last year in the same game, which led to the game-winning touchdown?
Let's try this again: Cundiff is not perfect. He is a pro and I bet you he will work his butt off during the offseason to make sure this never happens again. You just don't cut players because they make mistakes. Using your approach, the Ravens should have fired general manager Ozzie Newsome because for years he couldn't draft a good receiver, and the Ravens should have fired Harbaugh because he blew a lot of challenges in his first year with the team.
Every time the Ravens lose a big game in Baltimore, fans want to fire somebody. Chill out, man. Take a pill. Plus, it's hard to take anybody whose name is Anonymous seriously.
Jamie in Winter Haven, Fla.: Instead of the first field goal, why didn't they go for it on fourth-and-1? On the road, they needed to play for a win and intimidate the Pats. Bad decision!!
Mike Preston: No, take the points. It's the playoffs and every game is a dog fight. You take the points. Good move by Harbaugh.
Dick in Delray Beach: At the end of last season, John Harbaugh said that he would become more involved in the Offense. Do you think he did? Seemed the same flavor vanilla to me.
Mike Preston: I agree. I didn't see any Harbaugh fingerprints on this offense. If there are, he's as guilty as offensive coordinator Cam Cameron. But at least the offense featured running back Ray Rice in the second half of the season, and Cameron called a really good game in the AFC championship. Everybody complains about Cameron to some degree, but if the Ravens receivers made crucial catches in crunch time the past two seasons, the Ravens would have been in two straight Super Bowls.
Brad in Olney: I just don't get Cam Cameron. He got off to a bad start, found a groove and called a pretty good game. Then came the second-to-last drive. Ball on the 30, third-and-3 and he calls for a deep draw play that results in a loss of 3 yards, essentially killing the drive, which ended with a fourth-down incompletion. Surely there were better options in the playbook, like a screen to Ray Rice or quick hit to Dennis Pitta in the flat. He's maddening and I hope one of the changes the Ravens make in the offseason is finding a coordinator who can bring some identity and continuity to the offense. What are the odds of Cameron being brought back next season?