« Good luck, Steve Hauschka | Main | What to make of Michael Phelps' struggles in Europe »

Really, how much has Matt Stover's absence hurt the Ravens?

I was a little late getting going this week, sort of like the Ravens in Cleveland on Monday night.

As we know, a win is a win. But that one was not particularly inspiring. At least the Ravens don’t have to face an undefeated team on a short week this Sunday.

As for our free tab of the week based on the prediction for Sunday’s game, you’re all paying. Because the house won. Or at least I came the closest on both sides to predicting the 16-0 win. I had 24-6, and so did Frederick McMurray (a drink chip your way).

We all assumed a Ravens’ beating for the Browns, but most of us overestimated the Raven’s offense. There were three customers who predicted shutouts; the closest was 27-0.

So, yeah, the Ravens won, but there were plenty of red flags from that game. Most alarming was the continuing number of yellow flags. There’s a fine line between aggressive and stupid.

Monday also marked the end of Steve Hauschka’s Ravens career. Missing a 36-yarder and having an extra point blocked was not the way he needed to rebound.

Now the Ravens are kicker shopping with a more than a week to go before Black Friday. Not a good sign for a team that still has playoff hopes.

Forget Monday-morning quarterbacking, the Hauschka decision should create some Wednesday-morning placekicking. It’s pretty obvious the Ravens should have stuck with fan favorite Matt Stover this season. His accuracy is definitely missed.

But how much? What I mean is how much different would this Ravens’ team be with Stover, who is now with Sunday’s opponent, the Indianapolis Colts? Would it still be in “long playoff run, Super Bowl talk” discussion?

One school of thought is that Stover would have given them a win against Minnesota and possibly one against Cincinnati. The other way of thinking: Stover is a kicker. If your team is lamenting the loss of its kicker, it’s got bigger problems than missed field goals.

My opinion: Stover would help, for sure. But unless he can cover 6-foot-4 receivers, provide a pass rush and get to the line of scrimmage without a false start, I am not convinced Matt Stover is the difference between a playoff Ravens’ team and an also-ran.

Then again, I am a baseball guy by trade. School me, people. Learn me, football gurus.

Daily Think Special: How much has Matt Stover’s absence hurt the Ravens?


Let's be conservative and say that Stover would have only given us a win in the Minnesota game, not against Cincinnati. If that alone were the case:

- We would now stand at 6-3, not 5-4, which would hold substantial implications for our playoff chances
-We would have handed both Minnesota and Denver their first losses of the year, resulting in increased team confidence going into this week's matchup against undefeated Indy
-All last week commentators were harping on the Ravens losing 3 of their last 4. With a Minnesota win everyone would be now talking about the Ravens being on a roll going into the toughest part of their schedule, winning 3 of their last 4.

Let's get a little more creative and consider who was the 53rd man who made the roster because of Stover being cut. Frank "pass interference" Walker? How many games has he cost us? The Ravens may have been hesitant to rush Webb but I can't imagine he could have done any worse than Walker.

So where in most cases you would balance what you lost by ditching Stover with what you gained- but in this instance I think you ADD the impact of missing Stover to the damage that keeping the 53rd man has done.

Finally, given our remaining schedule I think it's inevitable that we'll have at least one more game where our kicking game is the difference. So I believe we have yet to even fully realize the damage that not bringing back Stover has done.

It frustrates me beyond belief that by simply keeping Stover we would be in contention right now, and by getting a true #1 CB we could be the best team in the NFL. The failure of the Ravens to do either, when we knew our shortcomings in both areas, is damning.

Football is so much about confidence and momentum. A win at Minnesota is more than just a mark in the win column. It's a boost to the ego and swagger of an already solid team. When you lose a game like that- a hint of doubt and tightness can set in- which I think happened.

Ever since that game, the offense has been tight- not nearly as fluid as it was before. Is there a pressure to score touchdowns every drive, rather than field goals? Are they pressing now because their room for error is less.

It's a domino effect on the whole psyche of a team when a kicker misses a game winning kick.

Winning builds confidence- and confidence leads to winning.

We would have beaten Minnesota, lost to Cincinnati 17-10 instead of 17-7 and we would have beaten Cleveland 20-0 instead of 16-0. We would be 6-3 right now instead of 5-4 and we would all be just a little less skeptical about the Ravens' chances of actually making the playoffs. I would not have strongly objected if we didn't cut Steve Haushka but I also would never have failed to bring Matt Stover back in the first place.

this is still to be determined,but i do believe
losing stover will cost the
ravens two more games.....

the difference between a wild
card berth and a third place
in their division...

the field goal kicker is very
important in coaching decisions, if you had johnny
u you wouldn't have to worry
about a bleapin fg kicker...

Now can we cocede how absolutely stupid it was for the Ravens to not resign Stover? It was almost as bad as when they decided that Jermaine Lewis wasn't worth the money "as merely a kick and punt returner". We have not had a threat in that position or a game changer since.

I, probably in the minority, was not in favor of releasing Hauschka. There are a couple of reasons. One, there are only mediocre kickers available. They are available because they are not good enough to be on anyone's team. Two, If you look at the kicks that Hauschka missed, they are all the same, approximately six feet or so to the left. That doesn't indicate inability or choking, it indicates a mechanical problem, which someone (like Matt Stover) could have helped him correct.

Good Grief!

Once you get past Indianapolis, Cincinnati and New England, you have quite a few teams, including the Ravens, who are pretty equal in talent. So of course the kicking game is that much more important. I just don’t see our Ravens making the playoffs this year. No kicking game, our defense is not great and getting worse with all the injuries, and Flacco is still in the learning phase. Next year will be much better

Andrew laid it out great and Jeremy reinforced it. The biggest factor is the psychological one. The difference between expecting to make a kick and thinking you can, hoping you can, is huge. It has to affect the whole team, offense and defense, same as it does the fan base. Special teams play is HUGE, going both ways, and should never be minimized in consideration of its importance.

Gimme a Dos Equis.....

Stover was like your steady girl back in school. Dependable, reliable, could ignore her for weeks and she would still come running when you called. Sure, she wasn't the sexiest thing in town but she was your gal.

I miss my old gal.....Stover.

Who are we kidding? Cutting the kicker makes us a better team. No corners, no Bart, no Leonard, no Rolle, one tight end, no fullback, one wide receiver, new/old center, now no Suggs and we cut the kicker. PLEASE

Colts 38
Ravens 9

Manning throw 2 TDs
Running backs run for 2 TDs
Colts nab a pick 6

Oh, yes. The new kicker (fill in the blank) kicks 3 FGs (after the offense stalls in the red zone 3 times)

Stover won us 4-5 games in 2000 and was top 5 in important players that year. Football has a lot less chances the baseball, each loss is huge. the difference between 6-3 and 5-4. IS probably the difference between a playoff spot and not.

The Ravens would be 6-3 period. They would feel much better about their playoff prospects. I still think ultimately the Ravens loss at home against Cincinnati will cost them a playoff spot, as it did back in 2004. Hopefully they will surprise us all these next few weeks.

Two loses worth. I am sure Matt would have gotten the points needed to win two of the games that we lost.

Q. What's the difference between the Ravens and The Who?

A. Yeah yeah you already know; The Who will be in the Super Bowl.

We are not a Super Bowl team. With the League, the refs, signing or not signing Stover, Ngata missing for weeks, a already disappointing Suggs who is now out for who knows what and for how long, Reed plays when he wants to, Ray's whinning about Quinn but would throw the Cinncy game again if given the same chance. Christ, enough already. Put your pants on with the players you have and try to get ready for the Kolts at home. Just do your best keep it respectable

I hate the phase "play like a Raven". What's it mean, play like a bird eating road kill? Get back to playing good ole hard nosed, intergerity laced football fo

WHo is to say Stover makes the Vikings Kick. He Choked away the Miami game a few years ago, and gave them there only win. (I was there to watch that)

I think the offense should score TD's, and not let a little kicker decide games.

Q. What's the difference between the Ravens and The Who?

A. Yeah yeah you already know; The Who will be in the Super Bowl.

We are not a Super Bowl team. With the League, the refs, signing or not signing Stover, Ngata missing for weeks, a already disappointing Suggs who is now out for who knows what and for how long, Reed plays when he wants to, Ray's whinning about Quinn but would throw the Cinncy game again if given the same chance. Christ, enough already. Put your pants on and try to get ready for the Kolts at home. Just do your best keep it respectable.

I hate the phase "play like a Raven". What's it mean? Play like a bird eating road kill? For Godsakes get back to playing good hardnosed intergerity laced football. Stop the complaining. Start scoring early and often. Let's play "winning Raven football".

With Stover we would be 7 & 4 after the Colts & Steelers games instead of 5 & 6 - the two games that we will most likely drop to Indy & Pittsburgh.

Please, enough with the Stover talk. The kicker was certainly the least of the problems with this team(Hauschka did make nine of 13, you know) but he's not Stover, so this provincial city jumped all over him.

Stover is 41, and even in his heyday, was not a long distance kicker(13-31 from 50+; 127-180 from 40-49 in his career). He would have to have been replaced soon enough.

The Ravens took a worthy gamble with Hauschka and with a little patience, he might just have turned into a reliable kicker, this was his first season, and Stover was only 16-22 in two of his three years, 21-29 the other. The Browns were patient with him and in his forth year, he made his reputation that lasts to this day; he went 26-28 to lead the league in accuracy. But by his eighth season, he was back to 75 percent, he didn't get consistently in to the 80's until his ninth year in the league.

Don't you think Hauschka deserved the same opportunity? The guy certainly has the leg and it would surprise me not that he signs with somebody else and turns into that reliable kicker.

So the Ravens let go a possible franchise kicker and are forced to turn to a journeyman for the rest of the season.

We also can't forget that Stover made that kick in Tennessee in last year's playoffs that sent us to the AFC Championship game.

Yes, Dan, you are probably right but - if Matt Stover had been kicking and, in the unlikely event, he had missed the same field goals and extra points, we would have forgiven him. We would not be sitting here second guessing why the Ravens didn't keep Stover this year and wondering "what if?"

You dance with the guy who brung you. Matt Stover brung the Ravens along year-after-year. The Ravens needed to keep dancing with Stover until his leg fell off.

Not as much as they miss Rex Ryan.

I love how you people all ASSUME that Stover would have made the kick against the Vikings. Stover was 5 for 10 last year over 40 yards. Again, why is it a given he would have made it???

In a league where defense is starting to be irelevant a good kicking game / special teams unit is extremely important. The NFL wants more scoring and less defense. In five years it will not be uncommom for 35 to 34 scores. Special teams will be looked upon as a branch of the offense. 300 yard passing games will be common. A good passing day will be 400 yards plus. Even today the best QB`s rack up 300+ yards every week. The defense will be looked up to slow down an offense not stop it. Whoever has the ball last will determine the outcome of the game.

Matt Stover was the Ravens' most consistent offensive weapon during his tenure here. Carrying an extra kicker wasn't that much of a burden, plus that kicker had a great opportunity to learn first-hand from one of the NFL's best.

Were my eyes deceiving me, or was punter Sam Koch handling kickoff duties during the Cleveland game? If so, then why could he not have done this with Stover here, saving us that precious roster spot?

Stover was unimportant. He wouldn't have won in Minnesota, he didn't have the leg strength. He can barely kick outside of 40 yards, and he was a liability. While Football is about being 'loyal' to players, and when a player becomes a liability to the team, they should return the favor and retire.

A kicker is the least of our concerns. If offense and defense play like they can he'll only be for extra points and kickoffs.

Give the Stover stuff a rest.

Matt Stover . . . you are the bomb! We love you and miss you! John Harbaugh may have been a special teams coach - but he totally missed the boat on you! I will forever wear my number 3 jersey with pride!!!

Hi, as much as I am a huge fan of Stover, there is absolutely no guarantee he makes that field goal against Minnesota. Although kicking well, he hasn't made a field goal this year over 40 yards and he was 5 for 9 last year from 40-49 yards.

It was a risk to cut him and mb in retrospect it wasn't the right decision. However, taking up two roster spots for a team that really needs them I supported the decision at the time. In retrospect it didn't work out, these things happen. But if you look at all of the injuries and lack of depth we have now, it shows how important that extra roster spot can be.

Let's just hope the team can pull out a big win against Indy. Go Ravens!

Remember???...Stover was not the "long ball kicker" anyway, so Hauschka may have STILL been the kicker used for the 44-yarder in the Vikings game. Thus, keeping Stover (who I hated to see go) would NOT have made a difference.

Keeping Stover would have meant signing a real Kick Off Specialist (KOS) as well. Just by way of example, KOS Rhys Lloyd (twice cut by the Ravens due to their desire to NOT "waste" a roster spot) has been handling Kick Off duties for the Carolina Panthers. This year the Ravens have only 3 Touchbackbacks out of 46 Kick Offs. Rhys Lloyd, all by himself, has 17 touchbacks out of only 38 kick offs. That is 17 times that the ball was kept away from the Joshua Cribbs of the day, 17 times that the Special Teams guys get to jog down to watch a ball sail out of the end zone instead risking life and limb, and 17 times the opposition started way back on their own 20 yard line instead of the 32 yard line. So, field goal misses aside, Hauschka really wasn't getting the job done on kick offs either.

Jon wasabsolutely right on.Stover last year was 5 out of 10 from the 40 yd. line or further;so how can anyone say for sure'Stover would have made it' against Minnesota when it was a 44 yd. kick?Stover said in todays Sun he would consider coming back as long as he could still kick a 52 yard field goal. What a joke!The Colts will find out if they need him to kick a 52 yarder!He is 6 for 6 with the Colts;but from where?

I miss Matt the Man,but I was ready to take a chance with somebody who has a stronger leg.Hey,this first guy did'nt work out;that's life sometimes.I know Matt will get a good reception at M&T stadium.I can't exactly wish him "good luck" this Sunday,Dan,but I'll buy him a brew after the game!

Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)

Verification (needed to reduce spam):


Most Recent Comments
The Burning Question

Buy Sports Tickets from the Baltimore Sun Store

Baltimore Sun blog updates

 Subscribe to this feed
Charm City Current
Stay connected