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News & Notes: The 'Greatest Punt in the History of Football' Was Called a Touchback

Posted Nov 20, 2017

Sam Koch’s punt to within the 1-yard line was brilliant. Backup quarterback Ryan Mallett got a little too worked up about special teams. Ryan Jensen’s play looked clean on replay.


Sam Koch’s Brilliant Punt Was (Mistakenly) Called a Touchback

The goal of every punter is to put the ball as close as possible to the goal line, right?

Well, Ravens punter Sam Koch got it about as close as humanly possible in Sunday’s 23-0 win in Green Bay Sunday. It was the perfect punt.

Only problem was referees (mistakenly … in the opinion of many Ravens fans) called it a touchback, then the officials in New York stuck by the call after review.

“I thought it was the greatest punt in the history of football,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said, inciting some chuckles from the media.

“Seriously! I thought it was the greatest punt play in the history of football, or at least, the history that I’ve seen. I’ve seen all the punts in the National Football League for the last 20 years, and that’s the best one I’ve ever seen.”

Koch’s punt bounced and rolled inside the 1-yard line and cornerback Maurice Canady dove to try to keep it out of the end zone, but whiffed on touching it. The ball’s rotation never changed.

Then linebacker Tyus Bowser dove in and seemingly also tried to tap it backwards, but also did not touch it. Ultimately, the ball settled at the ½-yard line, where cornerback Marlon Humphrey touched it down.

Yes, without it being touched, Koch dropped a punt WITHIN the 1-yard line.

The referee making the call first seemed to call the ball down, then changed it to a touchback. Harbaugh challenged the call, and after review, which is now done at league offices in New York instead of referees on the field, the ruling stood.

“They said that they couldn’t tell,” Harbaugh said when asked what explanation he received from the referees. “It’s in New York, so it’s hard for the [officials] on the field to really explain the reasoning. I don’t think they always know.”

Alas, it’s the greatest punt that should have been, but never was. Fans can help make up for it, however. Koch went to the Pro Bowl in 2015 and deserves to go to another.

Ryan Mallett Got Too Worked up Over Special Teams

Now we know who the culprit was for a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the Ravens bench during the third quarter of Sunday’s game.

Referee Jeff Triplette announced that a player “verbally abused an official during the play.”

Turns out it was backup quarterback Ryan Mallett … on a special teams play. Usually backup quarterbacks aren’t that engaged in that part of the game, but apparently Mallett was fired up.

“You’re welcome to ask him what he said; I won’t repeat it here,” Harbaugh said.

It happened at the end of a Koch punt in the third quarter (not the touchback one). There was pushing and shoving between the Ravens and Packers players at the tail end of the play.

Harbaugh was asked if Mallett deserved the penalty. The head coach didn’t personally hear it.

“If he said what the officials said he said, sure,” Harbaugh said. “He will be disciplined, here, in-house, I promise you because, as much as I love Ryan Mallett, I’m not cool with that. He knows it.”

The Ravens ended up winning the game, so it didn’t turn out to be a costly penalty.

“He’s a competitor, he’s into the game,” Harbaugh said with a smirk. “He and I talk a lot, about the offense and the calls and things like that during the game. But [Special Teams Coordinator Jerry] Rosburg and his special teams coaches – they don’t need his help on specials teams; they’re doing just fine. … Until Ryan starts sitting in this room in special teams meetings – unless he’s cheering for us – we probably aren’t going to need his help that way.”

Ryan Jensen’s Block Looked Clean on Tape, But He Feels Badly

In the fourth quarter of Sunday’s game, Packers defensive tackle Kenny Clark suffered what appears to be a serious ankle injury. He left the game on a cart.

After the game, Packers safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix called the play a “cheap shot” by center Ryan Jensen, who plays to the whistle but has never been accused of such play before.

Running back Alex Collins was hit hard from the side and fell into Clark’s lower leg on the second-and-1 play. Jensen was engaged in a block with Clark, who was bent over backwards by the contact.

“Ryan said he felt it right away, and said he felt him bending backwards, and tried to hold him up,” Harbaugh said.

“When you look at the tape, that’s what I saw. He was really trying to hold him up – he wasn’t pushing him over the pile. He felt really bad about it. I know he has every intention to get a hold of Kenny and let him know.”

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