We all know the story by now.

Final minute of the AFC Championship Game.  Ravens trailing by three.  Fourth down and a yard from the Patriots 15 yard line.  Play clock is running.

So is Ravens' kicker Billy Cundiff.  He's late getting on the field.  Quickly the Ravens line up and snap the ball, despite having a timeout left.  Cundiff kicks and the ball sails wide to the left.  And, it's not really that close.  Patriots win.  Cundiff is the goat.

But what happened?  Why was Cundiff so late getting on the field?

To Cundiff's credit, he made no excuses.  He took full responsibility.  And, regardless of the situation, it's just a 32 yard field goal and he's a professional kicker.

But, come to find out, the scoreboard at Gillette Stadium may have lent a helping hand.

Kickers, as much as any players, have routines when getting ready to kick a field goal.  Cundiff has his as well.  On first down, holders and snappers practice and Cundiff lightly kicks the ball.  On second down, he faces the goalposts and kicks without the ball, looking at the goalposts.  On third down, he imagines the kick in his mind.  On fourth down, he enters the game.

With so many players and coaches on the sidelines, Cundiff relies on the stadium scoreboard to tell him the down coming up.  In this particular case, Cundiff thought it was third down when the coaches started screaming for him to go on the field.

As it turns out, the Gillette  Stadium scoreboard was off by one down.

You may remember on first down, Anquan Boldin fumbled out of bounds, making it second and one.  But the scoreboard showed first down.  That's where the error came in.

Again, Cundiff makes no excuses for missing the kick.  But there's no doubting his routine was thrown off and he had to rush onto the field.

You can read the entire scenario here, courtesy of deadspin.com.