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Special Teams = Ravens Offense

Really, where would this team be without placekicker Matt Stover? I realize he's never kicked eight field goals in a game like Tennessee's Rob Bironas, or he hasn't kicked three last second game-winning field goals like Jason Elam has this season. However, he is the main reason that the Ravens have won the four games they've managed to win so far. That's why he's been tagged with the nickname, Matt "it's not over 'til it's" Stover! The Ravens' ineptitude in the Red Zone has only meant more opportunities and further cemented Stover's legacy as one of the most accurate kickers in NFL history.

Placekicking aside, special teams have both helped and hurt this team. Rookie return specialist Yamon Figurs has broken off a bunch of great returns, including one TD this season, after setting the fastest 40 yard dash time at the pre-draft Combine (4.28). However, against Buffalo last week, he muffed three kicks and looked disinterested on all three. He blamed it on the sun and wind, but it didn't seem to bother the other returners. If he wants to stay employed, he'll need to adapt to the elements in the NFL. Coverage teams have done their jobs, as the Ravens subs seem to excel on the Suicide Squads.

While punter Sam Koch has punted well for distance, the thing that grinds my guts is all the punts that land or roll into the end zone. Forget Waldo and Matt Lauer, where in the world is the "Coffin Corner?" Remember how punters were skilled in putting the ball out of bounds at the 2 yard line. For whatever reason, no NFL teams embrace this skill anymore. They all try for the good bounce and hope their teammates can down the ball before it gets to the end zone for a touchback. Twice this past Sunday against the Bills, the Ravens punted on fourth down from around Buffalo's 37 yard line. Both times, Koch put the ball into the end zone in the air! Net gain - 17 yards, big deal! Why couldn't it be pooch punted just out of bounds inside the ten yard line and then set up the defense to regain field position? I was going crazy on my sofa seeing this happen twice and not even the TV announcers seemed to notice or comment. This part of special teams can have a profound effect on field position and the game's outcome. The Ravens spent a rare 4th round draft pick on this punter and I expect a top ranked and similarly skilled punter to earn that pick. To me, Koch is no different that any other average punter in the league and must improve his kicks inside the 20. His performance in such a close game this past weekend was the main reason I added Special Teams to my scheduled column this week. Along with the rest of the team that never put us in a position to give the chance to Matt Stover to kick a field goal for the first time all season, Special Teams was certainly less than "special."