Veteran kicker Cundiff signs with Ravens to replace Hauschka

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- The only thing that could make the Baltimore Ravens feel any worse about their kicking situation would be Matt Stover booting the game-winning field goal for the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday.

Still searching for the right successor to Stover, the Ravens signed former Dallas Cowboys kicker Billy Cundiff on Wednesday. Cundiff replaces Steve Hauschka, who was cut Tuesday after missing several important field-goal tries -- including a potential game-winner in Minnesota last month.

Stover played with the Browns before they left Cleveland and was the Ravens' starting placekicker since the team arrived in Baltimore in 1996. His contract expired following the 2008 season, and the Ravens didn't re-sign him.

Ravens coach John Harbaugh gave the job to Hauschka, who handled the kickoff chores as Stover's backup last season. Stover signed with the Colts last month and is 6 for 6 on field-goal attempts.

If he could do it over, Harbaugh would have made more of a push to keep Stover.

"I guarantee you one thing: It would be nice to have Matt Stover kicking for us right now. It just didn't work out," Harbaugh said. "We had a plan all along to bring him back if we needed him, and then the Colts signed him. And there he sits, kicking for the Colts against the Ravens. It's pretty juicy. I'm looking forward to seeing what happens."

Stover, 41, would have loved to return, but he certainly has no complaints about being with the unbeaten Colts.

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"No bitter feelings. When a team's ready to move on, they're ready to move on," Stover said. "You wish you could change their mind sometimes, but you can't. I knew there would possibly be an opportunity. Just kept my options open and thank goodness the Colts came calling."

Cundiff has made 66 of 89 field-goal attempts in his NFL career. He kicked for the Cowboys from 2002 to 2005 and was 6 of 6 on field-goal tries with the Browns from Sept. 27 to Oct. 25 as a replacement for the injured Phil Dawson.

After Hauschka missed a field-goal try against the Cincinnati Bengals on Nov. 8, Cundiff and former New York Jets kicker Mike Nugent were given a tryout by the Ravens. Neither was hired at the time, but Cundiff received the nod this week because of the distance on his kickoffs, according to Harbaugh.

Cundiff was working a 9-to-5 job with a venture capital firm in Arizona when the Ravens called Tuesday afternoon.

"I stayed in shape working out in the mornings, lifting at night and helping out my wife with our daughter," he said. "I've been hoping my chance would eventually come. ... Finally the phone rang, and within two hours, my bag was packed and I was on my way to the airport."

Cundiff feels no less pressure following Hauschka than he would as Stover's successor.

"In the NFL, it's a replacement business," Cundiff said. "No matter where you go, the guy either really well or the guy struggled a little bit. Your job doesn't change. You're brought in here to make field goals. If you don't, you're shown the door. I know that my objective is to come out, provide the team with stability, make kicks and help the team win."

And that is what Stover will seek to do for the Colts.

"Hopefully, he won't kick a game-winning field goal," Ravens wide receiver Derrick Mason said. "I might have to go out there and trip him or something."

Said Stover: "My family's still in Baltimore. They go to school there. It's a great community there for us. But, hey, let's go win this game for the Colts."

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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