MINNEAPOLIS — No amount of body language or prayers was going to send Steve Hauschka’s kick sailing through the uprights once it left his right foot.
Hauschka struck the football with sufficient power, but hooked his 44-yard attempt wide left by a few yards with time expiring.
The miss doomed the Baltimore Ravens’ comeback attempt as they lost 33-31 to the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday at the Metrodome.
"It’s definitely one I want back," a dejected Hauschka said afterward. "I felt I had a decent swing on it. I looked up and it was going left, so I was disappointed. It’s a very humbling experience. You have to move on from it and make the next one.”
It was only Hauschka’s second field goal attempt since the third game of the season against the Cleveland Browns.
More significantly, it represented his first kick of any major consequence since replacing clutch veteran Matt Stover.
Stover’s contract wasn’t renewed when he became a free agent after the end of last season as the team informed him that they wanted to go in a different, stronger-legged direction.
Now, Stover’s with the Indianapolis Colts while Hauschka learns on the job.
"It’s tough for me," Hauschka said. "I feel like I let them down. That’s something I have to live with."
Unlike Stover’s 14 game-winning kicks over the course of a 19-year tenure with the Ravens’ organization, Hauschka had never been in this position before in the NFL.
"There’s obviously a lot of pressure on it," Hauschka said. "It’s something you try to practice, but in the game it’s a different feeling. You have to move on from it. It will make me stronger in the long run."
Vikings coach Brad Childress called a timeout before Hauschka’s final kick to try to freeze the young kicker.
Initially, Childress thought that he had committed an error of judgment when he watched Hauschka stumble during his approach before the timeout was called.
"He kind of false-started himself and I was like, ‘I wish I would have had that one before the timeout,’" Childress said. "But you’ve got to believe and I was telling Adrian Peterson right before the kick that we were going to win the game."
Ravens coach John Harbaugh said he didn’t have any regrets about not taking another shot at getting Hauschka into closer range.
After picking up a first down at the Vikings’ 29-yard line on quarterback Joe Flacco’s nine-yard completion to wide receiver Mark Clayton, the Ravens sent Rice up the middle for a three-yard run.
Then, Flacco spiked the ball with two seconds left to stop the clock rather than run another play.
"With no timeouts, you are taking a chance," Harbaugh said. "We were in field goal range that was certainly makeable. We got done with that drive what we needed to get done to win the game."
Hauschka connected on a 29-yard field goal in the second quarter to get the Ravens on the scoreboard after falling behind by two touchdowns.
For the season, he has converted five of seven kicks.
None of his previous kicks were as important, though, as the one he flubbed Sunday in the fourth quarter.
"We didn’t lose that game because of Hauschka’s miss," Ravens running back Ray Rice said. "If we start fast and put points on the board, our defense starts fast, I think the game is a totally different outcome."
Hauschka said that he’s eager to get another opportunity to try to redeem himself for this miss, adding that his teammates made encouraging comments to him after the game.
"The guys had a lot of support for me," Hauschka said. "The guys were telling me that I’ll have an important kick later in the season and they want me to take it. There’s been great support from my teammates. I feel like I let them down."
Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.