Yesterday, I watched Steven Haushcka nail 3 clutch field goals that ultimately played the difference maker in sending his team to the Super Bowl. The announcers have been gushing over Houschka as being some sort of Mr. Consistency. It’s a foggy memory in my brain, but I did my research and went back a few years to when Hauschka was kicking here in Baltimore. It was quite a different scene for him.
The year was 2009, Flacco was in his second year. Harbs was in his second year. The big controversy going into the season was surrounding the kicking game. Ravens showed no interest in resigning the legend but aging Matt Stover. The previous season, Matty-Ice had shown some limitations in his leg strength. These limitations forced the Ravens to carry two kickers on the squad. Hauschka was handling kickoffs and long field goals, while Stover was doing the more routine kicks. Anyway, Harbs and Ozzie had no interest in doing that again. They brought in rookie Graham Gano to compete with Houschka.
The preseason race seemed to favor Houschka. Gano was inconsistent in the first two preseason games and was never able to garner the confidence of Harbs. Houschka wasn’t perfect either, missing a kick in the 3rd preseason game vs Carolina.
As the season started, Houcshka missed a kick in the first game against the Chiefs, but the Ravens won going away. Matter of fact they won the first 3 games that year. Then came the 3 game losing streak. The final game of that streak was against the Minnesota Vikings. Flacco and Rice performed a miraculous comeback and had the Ravens in field goal range. Houschka came in to win the game and blew the 44 yard kick. After that, it was pretty much over for him. The fans were clamoring for Stover to come back. He lasted three more games, but after missing makeable kicks vs the Bengals and the Browns, everyone had enough. Houschka was cut. He played some for Denver in 2010, and he finally settled in Seattle.
Honestly, I am happy for the guy. I’m glad to see a person work through their struggles and make it. In some ways, it is a shame things didn’t work out in Baltimore. It would have been nice to not have to deal with the Billy Cundiff experiment (and missing a chance to make it into the 2012 Super Bowl). Then again, we can now cheer for Justin Tucker and we know that he is a bad ass.