Cundiff Feeling at Home

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Two games into his Baltimore career, Ravens kicker Billy Cundiff was faced with one of the highest-pressure situations anyone in his position could have been assigned.

Overtime. Playoff hopes on the line. The hated Pittsburgh Steelers between his foot and the goal posts.

Certainly, Cundiff's signing would be tested.

But to the delight of the 71,314 fans at M&T Bank Stadium – and his new teammates and coaches – Cundiff passed with flying colors, splitting the uprights from 29 yards.

After clinching the Ravens' 20-17 victory in the extra period, Cundiff felt pretty good about using the word "we" when referring to the seventh franchise for which he's kicked. To reinforce the issue, Cundiff also converted five of six field goals on Nov. 22 against the Indianapolis Colts in his Ravens debut.

"I came here to do two things, that was to make field goals and bring some stability," Cundiff said. "I've done that for two weeks, so now I've got to continue to do that because we've got a long road ahead, obviously. We've got games we've got to win in order to make the playoffs."

The successful boot surely made everyone involved feel better about moving on from the Steve Hauschka experiment, which lasted nine games and four missed kicks.

The fact that it happened on a weekend when the reliable Matt Stover – whom the Ravens thought of bringing in earlier this year before he signed with the Colts – shanked a 32-yard field goal attempt was cosmically poignant.

"You definitely savor it," Cundiff said of his game-winner that pushed the Ravens to 6-5. "You have to count your blessings. Obviously, I have a good snapper and a good holder, and I've got a good situation."

Cundiff had a shot at putting the Ravens over the top at the end of regulation.

Baltimore had marched to the Steelers' 34-yard line with 25 seconds remaining when quarterback Joe Flacco was sacked at the 42 and fumbled. Guard Ben Grubbs fell on the ball at the 37, but because they did not have any more timeouts, the clock kept ticking.

Cundiff and the kicking unit had to rush onto the field to try a hurried 56-yard field goal. The kick was dead-on, but fell just short.

"He hit it great," said head coach John Harbaugh. "A 56-yarder is a tough kick. I think the main thing on a kick like that is you try to tell the kicker to kick it straight – that's when you have the best chance. If it goes far enough, it does. If it doesn't, it doesn't. The kick was dead straight, it was just too far.

"To get out there and hustle like that, to get it off the way he did and to kick it the way he did, I thought was a real tribute to him."

Had it gone through, however, there would have been controversy.

NFL rules state that a team cannot advance a fumbled ball under the two-minute mark if it has no timeouts.

Harbaugh was simply glad for a shot from any place.

"From what I understand, it probably should have been a little farther back, and that's something that I'm sure that the league will take up," Harbaugh said. "Like things that go both ways – they're out of our control in the heat of battle. We were just going to go out there and try to kick it as far as we could. I've seen a kick against us, actually, go 62 yards on the last play of the game, a field goal to win a game. Tampa Bay did it; Matt Bryant did it a few years back. It can be done."

Cundiff was ready for another attempt earlier in the fourth quarter, as the Ravens faced fourth down on Pittsburgh's 34-yard line. Instead of sending in the field-goal squad, it was punter Sam Koch to pin the Steelers deep.

Still, Harbaugh expressed his confidence in Cundiff's leg strength from 50 yards and beyond.

"He could have definitely hit from that range," Harbaugh said. "If it had been later in the game, we would have tried. As we thought about it, I thought, 'You know what? We're in a field position game right now.' That's a tough kick. Not that he can't get it there, but the percentages plus-50 just dramatically drop for every kicker in the National Football League.

"The idea is: If we don't make this kick, they're going to have field position that they really haven't earned so much. If we have a chance to pin them down inside the 10, that's what we want to do.

Cundiff may not have needed to display his power against the Steelers (he did connect on another 24-yarder in the fourth quarter) but the chance to solidify his Ravens status, and do it in a nationally-televised game was a welcoming experience.

"It's a lot of fun," said Cundiff. "You know if Al Michaels is doing your game, you know it means a lot. I've always had a lot of fun when he's been [here]. When he was on Monday Night Football, I had some big games and now Sunday Night Football. It's something you look forward to. I know when I was away from football, it was always one of those things you watch on TV, and you want to be there."

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