A lot of the debate this week will center around whether Baltimore Ravens kicker Billy Cundiff deserves to be blamed for his team’s 23-20 loss to the New England Patriots on Sunday. Some of that is justifiable, I suppose, what with his 32-yard missed field goal that left the Patriots 15 seconds away from yet another Super Bowl.
The truth is, though, the game was ultimately decided less than 30 seconds prior to that on a far more consequential sequence.
Standing firmly on New England’s 14-yard line, Joe Flacco and his Baltimore teammates looked poised to score and head for what have been a very well-deserved Super Bowl appearance. With the pigskin in his hands and the game on the line, Flacco calmly withstood the pressure and delivered a bullet to his team’s most intriguing preseason acquisition in wide receiver Lee Evans. For a split second Evans appeared to have full control of the ball in the endzone. But then, in perhaps the clutchest defensive move of the season, Patriots rookie cornerback Sterling Moore reached in and smoothly knocked it out of his hands.
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And just like that, a 14-yard touchdown with just a tad over 20 seconds remaining became a missed opportunity too enormous to overcome.
The referees didn’t bother reviewing the play because to them it was obvious – Evans didn’t take full control of the ball in the endzone. Clearly a review of the play in super slow-motion shows that it was close, but really there is nothing in the game tape that indicates the officials made the wrong decision. At least not from our point of view.
What do you think? Should Evans’ reception have been a touchdown? Should the referees have at least given it a second look?