Cowherd: Billy Cundiff not dwelling on missed kick

May 23, 2012|Kevin Cowherd

In so many words, Billy Cundiff says he's not thinking about redemption.

The game plan now is simple. Move on. Don't look back.

What else can the Ravens kicker say? What else can he do? Shrivel up and die? Sit in the house with the blinds drawn and brood about that big miss?

Re-play it over and over again in his head until it drives him crazy?

You saw it. Hell, the whole world saw it. Cundiff sees it still, you can be sure. Closes his eyes and there it is: his pushed 32-yard field goal attempt that went wide left in the final seconds of January's AFC Championship, leading to the New England Patriots' shocking 23-20 win over the Ravens in the madhouse that was Gillette Stadium in Foxborough.

But what good does it do to dwell on that horrible moment?

To remember the numb looks on the faces of his coaches and teammates? To recall the white-hot glare of the TV cameras as he stood front of his locker afterward and bravely tried to explain what had just happened, when he couldn't even make sense of it himself?

What good does it do to emotionally lacerate yourself over and over about the biggest miss of your career?

"(I) think it's all about moving forward," Cundiff said Wednesday at the Ravens' OTAs at the Castle in Owings Mills. "That's the big thing for me. I would have liked to make that kick. But at the same time, it didn't happen. Just like there were other kicks in my career that I haven't made.

". . .You look around, there are very few guys who are able to (be) perfect the whole year. Until you can do perfect, that's always the goal."

To hear Cundiff tell it, the off-season hasn't been the sustained horror show you'd have expected.

"It's actually been really positive, to be perfectly honest with you," he said.

Then he tells you about the guy in the supermarket who recently struck up a friendly conversation, and the cashier, too. He tells you how, if you don't win the Super Bowl, "what you do really doesn't matter, for the most part."

But he doesn't talk about the hate mail he got after blowing that kick. He doesn't tell you about all the jabs he took from late-night comedians and the cruel jokes the "Morning Zoo" knuckleheads trotted out on the radio for weeks.

He alludes to — but doesn't come right out and tell you — what it was like to be in a restaurant with his wife and kids in the days after the botched field goal try, only to see it replayed 20 times on every TV in the joint before the appetizers even arrived.

No, why re-hash all that? Again, it's all about moving forward now.

In the next breath, he tells you the philosophy of the great Morten Andersen , who kicked for five different teams and is the NFL's all-time scoring leader: "Leave the foot, leave the mind."

Translation: once the kick's gone, it's gone. Forget about it and move on.

Now the question is: Can Billy Cundiff do it? Can he move on? Is he mentally strong enough to get past what would be a psyche-shattering experience for a lot of kickers?

Cundiff says he is. Asked to rate his confidence should he ever find himself in the same situation — lining up for a critical kick in the final seconds of a championship game — he didn't hesitate.

"I think it's as high as it's ever been," he said. "I know I'll take my stats in the fourth quarter. If you look at it, that was the first miss I had as a Baltimore Raven in the fourth quarter. I think it was the first kick I missed all year in the fourth quarter.

"So I think the situation was pretty unique. I'll learn what I can from it and keep my confidence high and try to get better."

As of right now, Billy Cundiff will be the Ravens kicker this season. He was the league's best kicker two years ago. And the Ravens paid him a boat-load of money: $15 million.

This probably doesn't sit well with all the haters out there. But Cundiff was the only kicker in camp Wednesday. Justin Tucker, the undrafted rookie from Texas whom the Ravens tried out in their rookie mini-camp, was not invited back for this OTA.

Oh, the Ravens will bring in other kickers in the coming weeks to push Cundiff and minimize the wear and tear on his kicking leg.

But at this practice, only Billy Cundiff was out there on a side field, kicking ball after ball through the uprights.

Alone with his thoughts.

kevin.cowherd@baltsun.com

twitter.com/kevincowherdsun

Listen to Kevin Cowherd at 7:20 a.m. Tuesdays on 105.7 The Fan's "The Norris and Davis Show."

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