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In reading the reports after the Ravens’ 27-14 loss to the Green Bay Packers, one note that may have slipped under the radar is the fact that kicker Billy Cundiff sustained a concussion.
How does that happen to a player who is rarely in on a collision?
Cundiff was kneed in the back of the head by Ravens linebacker Jameel McClain on the opening kickoff, as Cundiff closed in on a tackle of returner Jordy Nelson.
Team doctors cleared Cundiff to return, but obviously, only to kick. He was required to run straight off the field after a kickoff to avoid any contact. In a pinch, punter Sam Koch would assume the kicking duties. Koch has kicked off for the Ravens before.
“On the very first play of the game, McClain got hit in the back and knocked over the pile,” head coach John Harbaugh said during his weekly radio show on WBAL 1090 AM. “His knee hit Billy in the back of the head, and he had a concussion.
“That’s why his kickoffs looked a little odd. He couldn’t find his balance on his kickoff swing. We were really worried about field goals. We were not going to be able to kick a field goal of any distance during the game.”
Cundiff did not have any field goal attempts during regulation, but connected on two extra points.
The kickoffs following the Ravens’ two touchdowns were very short pooch kicks in order to get the ball back quickly. They were also necessities.
The first pooch nearly worked because offensive lineman Evan Dietrich Smith fumbled the ball, but the Packers recovered.
Harbaugh noted that the second pooch was a designed squib, but Cundiff had trouble locating the ball. It was fair caught by linebacker Desmond Bishop.
“It was all he could do,” Harbaugh said of Cundiff’s kickoffs. “He couldn’t kick the ball downfield. The one really short kickoff was designed to be a squib, but he just missed it. He didn’t have any balance.”