Every week, blogger Matt Vensel breaks down a critical play, sometimes with the help of Ravens players, from that week’s game. Today he looks at Sam Koch’s touchdown run on a fake field goal against the Raiders.
The intentions of the Ravens have been questioned after they scored on a fake field goal while up 24 points in the third quarter of Sunday’s blowout victory over the Oakland Raiders. To their credit, the Raiders didn’t whine about the fake, though defensive tackle Tommy Kelly did ask reporters, “Would you run a fake field goal?"
Maybe they were, as coach John Harbaugh said after the 55-20 win, just making a point to future opponents that they will make them pay for overloading on field goal attempts. Maybe they were trying to silence the Raiders after they were chirping at wide receiver Anquan Boldin in a three-score game. Or maybe they were sick of critics talking about style points, so they tacked seven of them on with punter Sam Koch’s touchdown run.
But there is no question the fake field goal was a sweet play.
After another successful Baltimore drive seemingly ended at Oakland’s seven-yard line, the Ravens trotted out rookie kicker Justin Tucker to add to their 41-17 lead. As they Ravens lined up at the left hash, they saw that the Raiders have put eight of their 11 defenders to the right of long snapper Morgan Cox. Harbaugh said that tendency showed up on tape, and the players were directed leading up to the game to take advantage of it if they saw it.
“It was in the call, it was a possibility,” Harbaugh said. “If they give you the look, you run it. I they don’t give you the look, pretty much like every fake, you don’t run it. It was in the game plan all week, and they gave us the opportunity, and we called it.”
Cox snapped the ball to Koch, who doubles as the holder on field goals. As soon as he caught it, he ran to his left, where the three defenders on that side were walled off by tight end Ed Dickson and linemen Gino Gradkowski and Michael Oher. Koch cut between Gradkowski and Oher before high-stepping into the end zone. Koch said no Raiders defender touched him on the touchdown run.
“It was better than mine,” running back Ray Rice said. “He set up his blocks. I’m going to have to take a few lessons out of his book.”
The 7-yard touchdown run was the first of Koch’s career, but it’s not like we haven’t seen that play before. It was the same play the Ravens ran to score a two-point conversion in their lopsided win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in last year’s season opener -- and the timing of that fake field goal raised eyebrows as well.
Koch emphatically spiked the football before getting mobbed by his teammates. Oher and fellow tackle Kelechi Osemele bounced into him, and Tucker looked to be even more fired up than Koch.
Asked if the Raiders seemed to be upset about the fake at the time, Koch replied, “I was too busy doing high-fives and spiking the ball.”
The Ravens are getting flak for running the tricky fake field goal, which was executed perfectly. But good for Koch, who doesn’t spend much time dancing in the end zone. As free safety Ed Reed put it, “punters are people, too.”