OWINGS MILLS — The Baltimore Ravens weren’t confused about the down and distance on the final drive of their season that ended in a shanked field goal try by kicker Billy Cundiff, according to coach John Harbaugh.
In the wake of the Ravens’ 23-20 AFC championship game loss to the New England Patriots on Sunday at Gillette Stadium, kicking consultant Randy Brown suggested in a radio interview that the scoreboard clock was intentionally placed one down behind. And Cundiff has indicated that he felt the operation was rushed due to the scoreboard saying it was third down instead of fourth down on his errant 32-yard field goal.
However, Harbaugh was dismissive of that theory.
"We knew what the down and distance were on our last series," Harbaugh said in a statement. "The scoreboard was not a factor for us. Any suggestion that the wrong down information was a deliberate effort to affect the outcome of the game is nonsense."
Brown made the following claim in an interview with WIP radio in Philadelphia.
"The scoreboard was one down behind, the entire last three plays, from what we understand," Brown said. "I don’t think you can rule anything out in New England, can you?"
Brown was roughly shoved on the sideline by Harbaugh on the sidelines during the final minutes of the fourth quarter.
And Cundiff and the coaches didn’t call a timeout as the former Pro Bowl kicker ran up to kick and then badly missed a 32-yard chip shot wide left.
The reason behind the scoreboard gaffe could have stemmed from wide receiver Anquan Boldin fumbling out of bounds on a nine-yard completion on first down.
Although the scoreboard said it was first down, it was spotted by the referee as a 2nd-and-1 situation.
Then, the Ravens threw incomplete on the next two plays, including wide receiver Lee Evans failing to secure an accurate Joe Flacco pass in the end zone that was ripped out of his hands by cornerback Sterling Moore.
The rest of the story, like the Ravens’ season, is history.