Stover's shocking miss

MIAMI -- The football fluttered a few yards wide left, traveling errantly in a flight launched by Baltimore Ravens kicker Matt Stover's right foot. His overtime miss from 44 yards out wound up costing the Ravens a potential victory Sunday at Dolphin Stadium, losing 22-16 to a previously winless team. Three plays later, the Dolphins won the game on a 64-yard touchdown pass.

Stover knew immediately when he connected with the ball that this wasn't going to be one of his patented game-winning kicks.

"That's from a pull," Stover said. "Anyone who plays golf, you pull that club face a little bit forward and kind of toe it. That's exactly what happened. My toe came around a little too quick and the ball pulled left on me from the beginning.

"Pretty much right when it happened, I was hoping it would sneak through on the left side of the upright. I have to be that player that they can depend on game in and game out. I envision those kicks to go in there and win the ball game. It just didn't happen."

The miss was a surprising occurrence for Stover, the second-most accurate kicker in NFL history, and his teammates.

Stover, 39, entered the game 22 for 25 this year, but had a 50-yard field goal attempt blocked at the end of the first half by Dolphins defensive end Jason Taylor.

"Actually, I was very shocked," rookie quarterback Troy Smith said of the costly overtime miss. "I thought it was money in the bank, and I thought that everything was good. Matt Stover has been a clutch kicker his whole career."

Stover made field goals from 27, 39 and 18 yards, with his last one tying the game with eight seconds remaining in regulation.

"He's one of the most clutch guys ever," linebacker Nick Greisen said. "He's a guy who has done it for such a long time. With Matt Stover, you think you've got the game won, but he misses it. We've got to finish them off, though."

Stover entered the game with a .840 percentage, converting 430 of 512 career field goals.

This time, though, he didn't deliver in the clutch.

The miss mystified his teammates, but it didn't shake Stover's resolve.

"I overkicked it a little bit," Stover said. "You go back and review those kicks in your mind, you keep thinking about things you can change. It gave them the opportunity to make a play and they did in overtime and beat us.

"They put me out there thinking I'm going to make the field goal. That's exactly how I thought. I had already envisioned it through, and it didn't happen."

Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.

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