Published: January 17th, 2013 | Tags: AFC Championship Game, Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, Billy Cundiff, David Akers, Joe Flacco, Kyle Williams, Lee Evans, Mike Smith, New England Patriots, NFC Championship Game, San Francisco 49ers, Wes Welker
Year after year, when a team loses a big game the fans, and sometimes players, anoint a scapegoat, or more simply a goat, to carry the blame. Last year’s round of championship games feature three such goats that earned the ire of their teams’ fan bases: Kyle Williams, Billy Cundiff, and Lee Evans to be specific. So let’s take a look and see what each of those players are up to as we anxiously await this year’s championship slate while also taking a look ahead at who has the best chance of earning the “goat” title for 2012.
Ranking the 2011 Goats
#1 – Kyle Williams
Poor, poor Kyle Williams. Your team makes it to the conference championship and you accidentally touch the football on a punt in the fourth quarter, giving it to the Giants. Oh, and then you fumble again in overtime after your defense stopped Eli Manning not once, but twice, giving him a short field for the game-winning field goal.
Current Status: Still a 49er, but on IR after a torn ACL and the beginning of a bounce-back season.
#2 – Lee Evans
Hey, Lee, remember how Joe Flacco laid a perfect ball right into your arms in the endzone, and instead of securing it you let the Patriots lazily knock it out of your hands? Remember? Because Ravens fans sure do.
Current status: Starting wide receiver on his couch.
#3 – Billy Cundiff
Billy “Goat” Cundiff clocks in at #3 because were it not for Lee Evans, he never would have had the chance to choke and miss that game-tying field goal that prompted his release. Sure it was a 32-yard chip shot with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line… OK nevermind. He should have made it, Lee Evans drop or not.
Current status: Backing up aspiring choke-champ David Akers for the other Harbaugh.
2012 Championship Goat-watch
#1 – David Akers
When your team brings in Billy Cundiff to press you to perform, that’s not a vote of confidence. 49ers fans will likely be holding their breath until they turn as red as their jerseys if their Super Bowl hopes fall on the leg of the once automatic David Akers.
#2 – Wes Welker
Normally as sure-handed as wide receivers come, Wes Welker has developed a minor case of the dropsies over the last few years (see Super Bowl XLVI). Granted, when you’re targeted 150+ times a season, you’re bound to drop a few. Nevertheless, if Welker drops a key pass in the championship round he’ll likely also be dropping the contract extension he’s rightfully earned this year.
#3 – Joe Flacco
Even though Flacco just tied the NFL record for postseason road wins, fair or not if the Ravens lose in the championship round he will bear the blame. And, lets be honest, with Cundiff gone the most likely person to cost the Ravens with a mistake would be Flacco, despite his recent run of great playoff performances.
#4 – Mike Smith
Sure, every other team’s goat was a player, but there were rumblings that Smith’s job was on the line if the team lost last week. Does one win really change that if they still fail to reach the Super Bowl? Arthur Blank could potentially have a long list of employees on the chopping block if Atlanta loses again, and public enemy number one would be Mike Smith.
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