As Billy Cundiff's 32-yard field-goal attempt sailed wide left, the Baltimore Ravens' season of high hopes floated away with it.
Trailing New England 23-20 in Sunday's AFC Championship Game, Cundiff lined up for what appeared to be a sure thing with just 15 precious seconds left on the clock. It wasn't to be, and while the Patriots pack their bags for Super Bowl XLVI, the Ravens are left wondering what if.
"It's a kick I've kicked probably a thousand times out there," Cundiff told reporters after the game. "... I didn't convert, and that's the way things go. There's really no excuse for it. ...
"I think the disappointment is letting my teammates down," Cundiff added, specifically pointing out veteran linebacker Ray Lewis, who nears the end of his career.
"Disappointing, stunning loss at the end there," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "I thought our guys played their hearts out. ... We came up a play or two short at the end ... but I'm proud of them."
The gaffe was out of character for Cundiff, who was 9 of 9 on field-goal tries inside the 20-yard line and 10 of 12 inside the 30 this season. It was the first kick Cundiff missed in the fourth quarter all season.
"I just told him it's going to be OK," Harbaugh said. "Everybody has a bad day. ... Billy's going to be fine."
The Ravens' tight-knit locker room refused to point fingers.
"Not one play won or lost this game," Ray Lewis said. "There's no 'Oh, Billy's the fault. Billy missed the (kick).' There's no freaking 'Billy missed the kick.' It happened. Move on."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.