Special Teams Gets Crazy In Ravens Win

It's not too often that special teams units make some of the craziest plays of an NFL football game.

That was the case Sunday in Baltimore, as a Ravens' blocked punt led to a touchdown, the Jaguars pulled off two successful fakes and Justin Tucker atypically missed two kicks.

Combined, special teams highlighted and lowlighted the Ravens' 20-12 win.

It all started on the first series of the game when Ravens safety Darian Stewart came free through the middle of the Jaguars' punting unit to stuff Bryan Anger's punt. It wasn't a finger-tip block, but a full rejection.

The ball bounced back towards the Jaguars' end zone, wide receiver Kamar Aiken scooped it up and returned it 11 yards for a touchdown.

It was the Ravens' first punt blocked and returned for a touchdown since 2003. The great Ed Reed was the last one to scoop it up and score. The last blocked punt without a score was in 2008 by former linebacker Jameel McClain, which went for a safety.

"My eyes got so big," Stewart said. "It was a call just for me and [Anthony] Levine, and whichever one of us got there first, it was just, 'Make the play.'"

The Jaguars got some big special teams plays of their own, however. Coming into the game with nothing to lose and a 2-11 record, Jacksonville pulled out all the stops.

"We felt like we needed to steal a couple of possessions," Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley said. "We took some chances there to be bold."

Jacksonville pulled out its first trick after taking its first lead of the game, 9-7, with about 12 minutes left in the second quarter. On the ensuing kickoff, Jacksonville lined up normally, but squibbed an onsides kick. Outnumbering the Ravens, the Jaguars recovered on Baltimore's 48-yard line.

The last successful onsides kick against the Ravens was in 2012 against the Dallas Cowboys.

The Jaguars ended up missing a 42-yard field goal at the end of the ensuing drive, so it didn't hurt Baltimore other than keeping the offense sidelined longer.

Jacksonville pulled another rabbit out its hat midway through the third quarter. The Ravens had taken a 17-12 lead on the previous drive along with the momentum after forcing a three-and-out deep in Jaguars' territory. It looked as if Baltimore might finally have an opportunity to pull away.

The Jags, however, snapped the ball to punter Bryan Anger and pitched it to fullback Will Ta'ufo'ou. Jacksonville was facing fourth-and-3 on the snap. Ta'ufo'ou ran unabated for the first down and ended up with 19 yards.

The Ravens had eight men near the line of scrimmage, and should have been able to better defend the fake, but were caught off guard. Baltimore's defense stopped the Jaguars offense again, however, limiting the damage of the successful fakes.

Head Coach John Harbaugh said the Ravens talked a lot about the possibility of the Jaguars trying trickery on special teams leading up to the game.

"That was something that we felt like they were going to do, and they got us still," Harbaugh said. "It's not like we weren't thinking of those things, but we weren't thinking about them when they happened to us. So, that's on us.

"But that's what they should do. That's the idea there. If they have a little more at stake, maybe they don't risk some of those things. But that's probably the way football should be played. I was pretty impressed with what they did. … They did a great job of scheming that stuff up."

The Ravens also had a few miscues on their field-goal attempts, which is quite out of the norm.

Tucker attempted a 56-yard field goal with 46 seconds left in the first quarter. The snap from Kevin McDermott was a bit high, which seemed to throw off the timing. Tucker's kick was never online from the start and fell short.

That gave the Jaguars enough time to move back down the field and notch a 45-yard field goal, giving them a 12-10 lead at halftime.

Tucker lined up for what should have been a 49-yard field goal in the fourth quarter, but the play clock ran out and Baltimore was penalized for delay of game, making it a 54-yard attempt. Harbaugh said the Ravens were expecting the play clock to be reset.

"I think we were all under the assumption that the play clock was reset, and that's on us," he said. "It's something I have to notice and call a timeout there if we have to. But the guys on the field have to see that as well. ... That hurt us."

Tucker got enough distance on his next attempt, but the wind took it left and it hit the left upright and bounced back out, keeping the Ravens' lead at 17-12.

The 2013 Pro Bowl kicker has now missed five field goals this season after missing three in each of his first two years. All five misses are from beyond 50 yards.

He did come back with a successful 33-yard field goal to extend the Ravens' lead to eight points late in the fourth quarter.

"I was trying to tell myself that if you miss one, you're only human," Tucker said. "Just go out and make the next one."

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