“It’s a kick I’ve kicked 1,000 times in my career,” Cundiff said. “I just went out there and didn’t convert. . . . There’s really no excuse for it.”
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady failed to put on his typical display of passing wizardry. But he and the Patriots made the big plays when it mattered, surviving when a potential game-winning touchdown catch was knocked from the hands of wide receiver Lee Evans before Cundiff’s miss.
The Patriots secured their fifth Super Bowl appearance with Brady at quarterback and Bill Belichick as coach. They’ll seek their fourth Super Bowl title with that pair leading the team when they play the New York Giants in two weeks in Indianapolis.
“Anything that’s associated with winning, I’m proud of,” Belichick said. “There’s no quarterback I’d rather have than Tom Brady. He’s the best. . . . It’s nice to be able to win with him and the rest of our team.”
Brady threw two interceptions and didn’t have a touchdown pass. But he put the Patriots ahead in the fourth quarter with a touchdown on a one-yard quarterback sneak, and they held on from there.
“It’s incredible,” Brady said. “You watch this game. I was a kid growing up — I was a 49er fan, so I got to watch a lot of Super Bowls. You pinch yourself to get this opportunity.”
Tailback BenJarvus Green-Ellis had a second-quarter touchdown run for the Patriots, and place kicker Stephen Gostkowski provided three field goals.
Quarterback Joe Flacco had a pair of touchdown passes for the Ravens, one to tight end Dennis Pitta in the second quarter and one to wide receiver Torrey Smith in the third quarter. The Ravens led, 20-16, early in the fourth quarter, but they allowed Brady’s touchdown, and their three drives after that produced an interception, a fourth-down incompletion at the New England 33-yard line and Cundiff’s missed kick.
The fourth-and-six misfire by Flacco with 2 minutes 46 seconds remaining came after Coach John Harbaugh decided against having Cundiff attempt a field goal of about 51 yards that would have tied the score. The Ravens got the ball back, and Flacco’s second-down pass to Evans in the end zone nearly produced a touchdown with 22 seconds left. But New England safety Sterling Moore knocked the ball from Evans’s hands.
“I threw my hands up and started running that way,” said Flacco, who connected on 22 of 36 throws for 306 yards. “And then I saw the referee give the incomplete sign pretty quick. . . . When we put ourselves down there, we have to put it on us to get a touchdown there. We’ve got to put the game to an end.”