Graham Solid While Subbing For Cundiff

Shayne Graham connected on 48 and 43-yard field goals stepping in for Billy Cundiff.

Posted by Ryan Mink on Saturday, December 24th, 2011 at 6:39 pm | Categories: 2011 Season Gameday, Ryan Mink, Week 16 vs Browns

Shayne Graham could have had a much easier first field-goal attempt as a Baltimore Raven. But in retrospect, the way it worked out was perfect.

After being signed on Wednesday, the Ravens called on Graham for a 48-yarder in the first quarter Saturday against the Browns.

He nailed it.

Stepping in for injured Billy Cundiff, Graham connected on that 48-yarder and a 43-yard attempt in the third quarter that proved to be the difference in the Ravens’ 20-14 win.

“It’s a high-risk, high-reward type of industry that we’re in,” Graham said. “If you make a long kick, the confidence that builds is exponential – not only for yourself but for your teammates and everything else.

“You just feel a little bit of a burden off your shoulders when you make that long kick to start out.”

Graham hadn’t kicked since Nov. 24 while with the Miami Dolphins. He was filling in for two games for injured Dolphins kicker Dan Carpenter and went 4-for-5 with a long of 28 yards.

But he said he felt comfortable in Baltimore despite his quick turnaround. Graham was in training camp with the Ravens in 2009, eventually losing the job to Cundiff. He also kicked against the Ravens for eight years while he was with the Cincinnati Bengals.

“It was such a smooth transition that I felt I’d been here forever,” Graham said. “I felt comfortable, like I was home.”

Graham didn’t have any touchbacks, an area where Cundiff ranked fifth in the NFL.

But he connected from deep, an area where Cundiff has struggled this season. Cundiff was 1-for-6 from beyond 50 yards this season. He missed four field goals from inside 50.

“[Graham] did a nice job of knocking it between the poles,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said. “It’s not easy to do that, coming in to a new operation. The kickoffs were adequate. It’s not going to be a great kickoff day anyway. So, I think he did a good job of that as well.”

It’s unknown how long Cundiff will be out due to his left calf injury. He was not placed on injured reserve, showing that the Ravens believe he can make a return this season.

After Saturday’s game, Cundiff said he’s feeling much better and that he’s “definitely hoping to be back next week.” He said he thought he could maybe make it through the first half Saturday, but not the full game.

Thus, Cundiff was left watching from the sideline as Graham connected on two field goals.

“I was happy. Shayne’s a good kicker,” Cundiff said. “I was happy he was able to come in and contribute, and that’s why we signed him.”

Judging from Graham’s game, the Ravens look to be in good hands even if Cundiff can’t kick next week.

“If I’m called, I’ll play,” Graham said. “If Billy comes back then I wish him all the luck. My role is to help the team win when it’s my turn to play. If Billy’s able to come back, then I did my job. That’s what I signed up for.”

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