Outside linebacker Terrell Suggs isn’t typically one to dish out big compliments for punters and kickers.
But after Sam Koch’s performance against the Cleveland Browns Sunday, even Suggs had to marvel at what the veteran punter just did. Koch put on a punting clinic, pinning the Browns inside their own 5-yard line three times in the game.
“Sam is the best punter in the league, but we’ve always known that,” Suggs said.
Koch’s ability to pin the Browns deep was a real weapon in the 27-10 victory. The Browns consistently had to operate within the shadows of their own goalposts, which put even more pressure on rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer.
It was one of the best games the 35-year-old punter has played in his 12-year career, and that earned him his first-ever game ball during a locker room celebration.
“It was very special,” Koch said. “I’ll take that one home and put it up in the man cave. I’ve gotten game balls during the week, but in the actual locker room, it’s the first one. It’s very cool.”
Koch has been one of the league’s best punters for years, but he seems to have taken his game to even another level this year. He can flip the field in an instant and he leads the NFL with 37 punts downed inside the 20-yard line.
He’s also completed a pair of passes for 38 yards on fake punts, and he delivered the “greatest punt in the history of football,” which was wiped away because an official inadvertently thought the ball was touched by a player in the end zone.
“I think I’ve been able to mentally slow down the game,” Koch said. “In instances where there is a lot of stuff going on up front, whether it be snap count or whatnot, being able to slow it down and just focus on the job that I have. That’s to drop the ball, have a nice clean drop and be able to contact it and put it where I want to.”
The Ravens consistently have one of the best special-teams units in the league, and the synergy between the specialists is a big reason why. Koch has worked with kicker Justin Tucker and long snapper Morgan Cox since 2011 – their nickname is the Wolfpack – and their operation is seamless.
“It’s so easy to take Sam and Justin and Morgan for granted,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said. “That’s the best trio in football. There’s no question about it. They’ll tell you they lean on each other. They make each other better.”
The Ravens left Cleveland Sunday afternoon in good playoff position, and Koch went home with a new centerpiece for his man cave. He’s continuing to prove his value to this year’s team, and the Ravens expect him to play a vital role down the stretch.
“Everybody knows when you go on a run, your special teams are key,” Suggs said. “It’s good to have Sam and Justin on your team.”