Baltimore Ravens kicker Billy Cundiff said he had to rush on to the field before his game-ending miss in Sunday’s AFC Championship Game because of a scoreboard malfunction at Gillette Stadium.
Cundiff missed the 32-yard field goal in the final seconds, leaving the Ravens with a 23-20 defeat at New England instead of heading to overtime for a shot at a berth in Super Bowl XLVI.
He takes full responsibility for the miss, but explained to Deadspin that he coordinates his pre-kick routine to the scoreboard and thought it was only third down when he was suddenly called to take the potentially game-tying kick.
A Ravens spokesman said that after watching the All-22 video of the game, team officials confirmed the scoreboard error. Still, some analysts have questioned why head coach John Harbaugh did not call a timeout to give his kicker more time to prepare for the momentous try.
One unnamed Ravens player told TMZ on Monday that the Ravens coaches called for Cundiff at least six times and were "furious" that he was not immediately ready after the failed third down play.
Another player said he did not see the confrontation, but noted it was being widely discussed throughout the team.
After the game, Cundiff said "the timing seemed a little bit off," on the kick, but said he still felt he was going to convert.
"It’s a kick I’ve kicked a thousand times in my career. I just went out there and didn’t convert," Cundiff said. "That’s the way things go. There’s really no excuse for it. It just didn’t go through."
In an interview with ESPN on Monday, Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs also said there was a discrepancy between the scoreboard and what the officials were saying on the field about the actual down and distance.
Some players on the Baltimore sideline were confused after what they thought was a first-down reception by wide receiver Anquan Boldin.
But when officials spotted the ball, which Boldin fumbled out of bounds on the play, the Ravens still had a yard to go.
Baltimore ran two more plays before Cundiff was called upon.
"There was just a lot of confusion on that last play," Suggs said. "Those last two plays, it happened so fast."