Having missed three field goals to that point, not only had Cundiff cost the Washington Redskins nine points and possibly the game, but he also faced the strong likelihood that he had cost himself his job.
But given a shot at redemption, Cundiff capitalized and made a 41-yard kick with three seconds left on the clock, giving the Redskins a 24-22 victory. The successful kick likely kept Cundiff in a Redskins jersey for a while longer, and kept the team from falling to 1-3 as it prepares to host undefeated Atlanta on Sunday.
“It was big, it was really big,” Cundiff said. “As you look around, it’s very disappointing to know that in the end, you look at the scoreboard, and if we’re down by one, and I missed kicks, I could’ve made the difference. That’s a really tough pill to swallow because these guys work really hard. I get very few chances, but I’ve got to make sure that if it comes down to the very end like it did, I’ve got to capitalize on it.”
Signed just before the start of the season to end long-standing inconsistencies in the Redskins’ kicking game, Cundiff had seen Tampa Bay place kicker Connor Barth — who in the first half nailed field goal attempts of 50 and 57 yards — make a 47-yarder with 1 minute 42 seconds left to give the Buccaneers a 22-21 lead.
Cundiff, meanwhile, had misses from 41 (wide right), 57 (short) and 31 (wide right) yards, and needed a heroic effort from quarterback Robert Griffin III and the offense for him to have a chance to redeem himself.
Griffin delivered, leading a seven-play, 56-yard no-huddle drive in 99 seconds, moving the ball to Tampa Bay’s 24-yard line without calling a timeout.
“Everybody was looking at me, and maybe they were lying to themselves, but at least they did a good job outwardly of saying, ‘We trust you. We know you’re going to make this one.’ I knew for me, if I could just get that chance, no matter how bad I kicked earlier in the game, I would make it.”
Cundiff trotted onto the field. Eric Snow sent a perfect snap back to holder Sav Rocca, who got the ball down on time and in the right spot, and the kicker booted the ball through the uprights for the 41-yard game winner.
“That’s what an NFL kicker is supposed to do: make them in the clutch,” Barth said of Cundiff. “I’m happy for him as a fellow kicker. You have to give Washington credit, and they put it in when it counts.”
Cundiff’s kick kept him from posting the worst outing by a Redskins kicker in recent history. Not since Sept. 20, 1998, when David Akers went 0 for 2 in a loss to Seattle had a Redskins place kicker missed on all of his field goal attempts. Only once since then has a Washington kicker missed three field goals in a single game: Brett Conway went 3 for 6 in a 1999 win over the Giants.