Special teams doesn’t often get its due, but every once in a while, there’s a play that’s so special it makes you gasp.
Sure, kickers get lifted onto shoulders after game-winning kicks – like Justin Tucker did following his 49-yard game-winning field goal to beat the 49ers on Sunday. Returners, like former Ravens Jacoby Jones or Jermaine Lewis, are beloved.
But guys like Chris Moore – a gunner streaking down the field to make a tackle or down a punt – is often invisible. That is until he made this ridiculous play in the third quarter of Sunday’s game.
The game was tied at 17 when Sam Koch punted from the Ravens’ 37-yard line. The 49ers were going to have a chance to take the lead and momentum was already on their side following Lamar Jackson’s fumble that the 49ers turned into three points the other way.
Koch, who had punted just twice in the previous three games, hit an absolute beauty that was (as he calculated) slowed down by the rain-soaked field. That gave Moore just enough time to save it from trickling into the end zone.
The ball must have bounced an inch from the goal line, and been just a couple inches off it when Moore, with a flip, tossed it back into the field of play, where Anthony Levine Sr. touched it down at the 1-yard line.
Harbaugh said it was one of three “game-changing” plays the Ravens had on special teams, alongside Tucker’s game-winning kick and Marlon Humphrey’s blocked field goal.
“Chris Moore was just, he was high-tailing it down the field. He was flying,” Harbaugh said. “And he has such a great awareness. You see how many guys make mistakes – they slide, they get on the ground, they fall. He knew how to keep his feet on this side of the white line, tapped that ball – just a great play.”
A fourth-round pick in 2016, he’s carved out a niche as a special teams ace in Baltimore. His offensive role hasn’t grown as much as he would probably like (he has three catches for 21 yards this season), but he’s made countless crucial special teams plays.
Was this his best ever though?
“Ever? Dang. I don’t know. It was the coolest one,” Moore said. “I think the most important one I ever made though was when we played the Steelers a few years ago and I blocked the punt and I scooped and scored that one. That one actually turned into points. But this is definitely the coolest one I ever did for sure.”
It wasn’t the first time Moore made that play, but it was the first time in a game. In college at Cincinnati, while practicing downing punts, Moore did a flip toss backwards.
Moore was mobbed by his teammates after making the play and the TV broadcasters gave him some major props.
“That is just outstanding. Wow. That is beautiful,” said FOX play-by-play announcer Kevin Burkhardt.
Turns out, Moore has some big-time fans. Check out this tattoo a fan got of Moore’s face. It was done by a tattoo artist in Brazil and (my Portuguese isn’t great), but sounds like it took 22 hours and won an award for realism.
Moore has a lot of tattoos, but said it’s better than any he’s had put on his own body.
“That’s one of the best tattoos I’ve ever seen,” he said. “I got hyped this morning when I saw it. Hopefully I can get some work done by the artist. I will find a way to get some work done. If I have to go down there [to Brazil], I will.”