Billy Cundiff burst onto the scene last year for the Ravens with his long kickoffs and 89.7 percent field goal average. He made his first Pro Bowl with the Ravens in 2010 and set the NFL touchback record. The Ravens thought they had their kicking problem solved after an unsuccessful attempt at drafting a kicker the year before.
Then in 2011 Cundiff, a long-time journeyman, started to show some chinks in the armor. In week three Cundiff missed two field goals against St. Louis. A stat that was mostly overlooked because Baltimore won in blow-out fashion. Three weeks later most of the doubt was erased when Cundiff connected for five field goals against Houston in week six.
However, then in a game against Jacksonville in week seven Cundiff missed his only attempt. Most people probably overlooked it again as the entire team played poorly this week. Two weeks later Cundiff again missed in Pittsburgh in week 9 and the very next week he missed two of three in a big road loss to the Seahawks. Still the Ravens did not address the problem. Again, maybe the assumption was that because the team played so poorly as a unit that these chip shot misses did not seem to be a glaring problem.
Still there had to be some room for speculation when three weeks later against the Browns Billy missed two out of three again. At this point I think it was safe to assume that they had a problem. Still nothing was done. Two weeks later Cundiff missed in his only attempt against the Chargers in what turned into the worst loss of the season.
Billy Cundiff finished the season with a 75.7% field goal percentage, well above his 68.7 average. However the alarming part was that the field goals he was missing were not particularly tough. Of course he couldn't hit from long distance either but the short ones were also becoming a problem. What does this tell us? Did Cundiff somehow turn himself into a Pro Bowl kicker or did he just have one above average season? Including the one in the AFC Championship he missed 10 field goals this season. It seems to me that is a lot for some one over ten points above his lifetime average.
The Ravens special teams were a joke all season. The only one that held his weight was punter Sam Koch and it came back to bite the team in the end. The problems were never really addressed. Shayne Graham was brought in for two weeks while Cundiff was sidelined and made all his attempts from what I remember. He was then promptly released upon Cundiff's return. Our return coverage was ranked 31st in the NFL? Come on man...
My point is, this was a problem we should have been aware of. I'm not sure what could have been done but you never know until you try right? Maybe we would have lost any way but at least we could have had another shot at it. Joe Flacco was tearing it up and should have won the game on the play before any way. But almost doesn't cut it. The Ravens never addressed the issue and it took them down in the end.