Special teams living up to name in 2012

Special teams living up to name in 2012
November 20, 2012, 6:00 pm
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The special teams caused some problems at times in 2011. There were questions on the kicking and coverage, issues that hurt the Ravens at times.

But what a difference a year makes. The punting continues to be solid, rookie Justin Tucker's kicking is among the best in the NFL, and the coverage has really improved. Add in the three touchdowns Jacoby Jones has scored, and it's easy to see why everything's improved so much on special teams.

Jones added a punt return for a touchdown, the only one the Ravens scored, in Sunday's 13-10 victory over the Steelers. In addition, coverage on kick and punt returns has been stellar, especially in recent weeks.

The Ravens have shut down solid returners like Cleveland's Josh Cribbs. They gave up too many good run-backs last year, but that's just not happening this year, and it's a big plus for the team.

Points given up or scored involving special teams are a bonus because they take pressure off the defense and offense, especially the latter. The Ravens only scored six points on offense Sunday night but still came away with a road victory in Pittsburgh, a win that put them in good shape in the AFC North.

Now, can the Ravens keep that up in the final six games? Sam Koch's punting continues to be as good as ever, and Tucker's been a pleasant surprise. Beating out a former Pro Bowl kicker like Billy Cundiff is impressive enough, but then to become a solid field-goal kicker is even better.

Even if Jones doesn't score another touchdown on special teams, he's made his mark. If he can keep giving the Ravens good returns, Jones will continue to help. The coverage might be even bigger than that. If it stays good, the Ravens won't allow points there, something coach John Harbaugh will certainly like.