The Baltimore Ravens released veteran kicker Billy Cundiff on Sunday as the team trimmed its roster in advance of this week's final preseason game. Despite a nine year NFL career Cundiff will be best remembered by the Raven faithful for missing a field goal attempt in the waning seconds of last season's AFC Championship Game against New England.
The Ravens brought in Cundiff midway through the 2009 season after rookie kicker Steven Hauschka missed a series of important kicks. Cundiff was a solid performer in 2009 and followed up that campaign with a career year in 2010. Cundiff set a career high when he hit on 90% of his field goal attempts for the 2010 Ravens. Prior to 2010 Cundiff had never topped 79% accuracy on field goal attempts.
Cundiff returned to his old tricks in 2011 hitting on just 28 of his 37 attempts for a rate of 76%. Cundiff's miss in the crucial moments of the AFC Championship game was salt in the wounds for Baltimore fans as the kick came on the heels of Lee Evans dropping a game winning touchdown pass just seconds earlier. The Evans' drop and subsequent Cundiff miss made for a shocked fan base and early offseason in Charm City.
In Cundiff's defense he did face the music following his missed kick. He said all the right things to the media following the game and took the criticism in stride. The Ravens did not seek a veteran kicker during the offseason leading many to believe that Cundiff's spot on the 2012 roster was safe.
Baltimore signed former University of Texas kicker Justin Tucker as an undrafted free agent following the 2012 NFL draft. Tucker entered camp as a long shot to make the team but he consistently outperformed the veteran Cundiff in training camp kicking drills. Both players performed admirably in the pre-season but Tucker stole the show by drilling a 53 yard kick in Baltimore's drubbing of the Jaguars last week. Tucker's strong leg coupled with Cundiff's struggles in 2011 conspired to work against the veteran. Baltimore ended the kicking competition a week early likely as a courtesy to allow Cundiff ample time to catch on with another team. Billy Cundiff went from potential hero, to goat, to former Raven in a matter of months. Justin Tucker is Baltimore's next man up. Here's hoping the rookie can stand up to the pressure.
*Information gathered from http://www.nfl.com
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