have been one of the
’s best on special teams this season, and their success has extended beyond the three return touchdowns for
. Their coverage teams have limited the damage done by opposing returners. Punter
is having another solid season. And
has missed just two field goals.
According to Football Outsiders, the Ravens have the best special teams in the NFL -- by far.
But the special teams unit has taken a few hits in recent weeks. Injuries to cornerbacks
Unheralded special teams players such as
Despite the turnover, the Ravens continue to dominate in that phase. Special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg said it is because players rally around one of coach
"One of the things that we've talked about, and worked on since training camp even, is that during the course of the season roles change," he said. "When situations such as Corey's, where Corey is brought out of our coverage and now is starting at corner, then somebody else has got to go take that spot. So it may be somebody that's already on that unit whose role changes. Or it might have been someone that wasn't on that unit before whose role changes. So we're always trying to develop through practice and through preparation a number of guys that can do a number of things. And this time of the year is where those things come to bear."
That preparation is maybe why safety James Ihedigbo, who laid a monster block at the end of Jones' punt return for a touchdown in Pittsburgh, downplayed the notion that working in the new faces is a challenge.
"It's just guys knowing their responsibilities and being able to play as a unit," he said. "And it's understanding the mentality that we play with -- having that chip on our shoulders -- and going out and executing."
And boy, have they been executing.
Jones is averaging 35.8 yards per kickoff return, which is second best in the league, and his two kickoff return touchdowns are tops in the NFL. He is tied for seventh in the NFL with an average of 11 yards per punt return.
Koch is averaging at net of 40.7 yards per punt and he has pinned opponents inside their 20-yard line 20 times. Opponents are averaging just seven yards per punt return, the fifth-lowest average in the league.
Rookie Justin Tucker has made 22 of his 24 field goal attempts, including all four from beyond 50 yards. But he has also boomed 37 touchbacks and opponents are averaging 23 yards per kickoff return on 24 returns.
Even if there are more lineup changes -- chances are injuries will prompt some -- the Ravens expect similar results.