Ravens sign kicker Cundiff
OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- The only thing that could make the Ravens feel any worse about their kicking situation would be Matt Stover booting the game-winning field goal for the Indianapolis Colts in Baltimore on Sunday.
Still searching for the right successor to Stover, the Ravens signed former Dallas Cowboys kicker Billy Cundiff on Wednesday. Cundiff replaces Steven Hauschka, who was cut Tuesday after missing several important field goal tries -- including a potential game-winner in Minnesota last month.
Stover played with the Browns before they left Cleveland and was the Ravens' starting placekicker since the team arrived in Baltimore in 1996. His contract expired following the 2008 season, and the Ravens did not re-sign him.
Coach John Harbaugh gave the job to Hauschka, who handled the kickoff chores as Stover's backup last season. Stover signed with Indianapolis last month and is 6 for 6 on field goal attempts.
If he could do it over, Harbaugh would have made more of a push to keep Stover.
"I guarantee you one thing: It would be nice to have Matt Stover kicking for us right now. It just didn't work out," Harbaugh said. "We had a plan all along to bring him back if we needed him, and then the Colts signed him. And there he sits, kicking for the Colts against the Ravens. It's pretty juicy. I'm looking forward to seeing what happens."
Stover, 41, would have loved to return. But he certainly has no complaints about being with the unbeaten Colts.
"No bitter feelings. When a team's ready to move on, they're ready to move on," he said. "You wish you could change their mind sometimes, but you can't. I knew there would possibly be an opportunity. Just kept my options open and thank goodness the Colts came calling."
The 29-year-old Cundiff has made 66 of 89 field-goal attempts. He kicked for the Cowboys from 2002-05 and was 6 for 6 on field goal tries with Cleveland from Sept. 27 to Oct. 25 as a replacement for the injured Phil Dawson.
After Hauschka missed a field goal try against Cincinnati on Nov. 8, Cundiff and former New York Jets kicker Mike Nugent were given a tryout by the Ravens. Neither was hired at the time, but Cundiff got the nod this week because of the distance on his kickoffs, according to Harbaugh.
Cundiff was working a 9-to-5 job with a venture capital firm in Arizona when the Ravens called Tuesday afternoon.
"I stayed in shape working out in the mornings, lifting at night and helping out my wife with our daughter," he said. "I've been hoping my chance would eventually come. ... Finally the phone rang, and within two hours, my bag was packed and I was on my way to the airport."
Cundiff feels no less pressure following Hauschka than he would as Stover's successor.
"In the NFL, it's a replacement business. No matter where you go, the guy either really well or the guy struggled a little bit. Your job doesn't change," Cundiff said. "You're brought in here to make field goals. If you don't, you're shown the door. I know that my objective is to come out, provide the team with stability, make kicks and help the team win."
And that is what Stover will seek to do for the Colts.
"Hopefully, he won't kick a game-winning field goal," Ravens receiver Derrick Mason said. "I might have to go out there and trip him or something."
Said Stover: "My family's still in Baltimore. They go to school there. It's a great community there for us. But, hey, let's go win this game for the Colts."
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press
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