Somewhere between Steve Bartman and Billy Cundiff, it became cool to argue that an athlete who fails terribly on one pivotal play of one enormous game is not, in fact, a goat.It wasn’t, the argument goes, his fault alone.
That’s what’s happening today with Cundiff after he shanked a 32-yard field goal that should have sent the AFC Championship Game to overtime.
But let’s be real, it’s totally fair to blame Cundiff for the loss.
There’s a difference between scapegoating — i.e., heaping all your mistakes onto an innocent — and merely pointing out the reality that someone messed up in a way that cost his team the game.
Cundiff completely choked. He made an obvious error that directly correlates with their losing more than another single play in that game. It happens.
You can cite nebulous concepts like Baltimore’s inability to convert turnovers into points, or their porous offensive line. And all of those explanations are completely valid, and all those players are also to blame.
But so is Cundiff and his ugly hook on the game-tying field goal.
It is, in a very real way, his fault. And the notion that he’s protected from criticism by the complex calculus of how football games are won is high-brow nonsense.
No, he doesn’t deserve death threats or to be banished from the league or anything. But he messed up just like hundreds of players before him have messed up, and it’s OK to point that out.