It isn't often that one of the biggest highlights of a game is a block on special teams, but perhaps it was fitting Sunday in a physical game dominated by defense that featured just one touchdown and five field goals. Wide receiver Jacoby Jones had a big day on special teams, returning five punts for 108 yards. His longest return, a 37-yarder, was set up by devastating block by outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw. "[Special teams coordinator] Jerry [Rosburg] has done a great job," coach John Harbaugh said. "Our guys understand punt return angles and things like that, and that's why our punt return has been so good." Midway through the third quarter, with the Ravens leading by nine points, Jets punter Ryan Quigley boomed a 48-yard punt to Jones, who reclaimed his role as the team's primary punt returner a week ago. The Ravens were instructed to set up a middle return. Quigley punted the ball to the numbers on the left side of the field, where the Jets were supposed to pin Jones on the sideline. Cornerback Ellis Lankster, the gunner on that sideline, evaded Corey Graham, but Jones spun out of his tackle to get into space.
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During the punt, Upshaw was one of six Ravens players rushing the punter, and he was lined up on the far right side of the Jets line. Because Upshaw didn't block the punt, his next task was to turn back up the field and pick off any free runners on the far side of the field if Jones was able to break a return. "Jacoby, I saw him about to bounce it and I got in position where I could make a block," Upshaw said. Soon, the play would be coming his way. Tandon Doss, who was one of two players the Ravens had lined up deep, was leading Jones up the field as he made his way from the left sideline to the right sideline. "Pretty much all year, punt returns have been well, even with Tandon back there [returning punts]," Jones said. "Those dudes do a great job blocking. Hats off to them. All I do is see the lane and run." As Jones crossed his 30-yard line, Jets linebacker Troy Davis was running horizontally across the field to try to tackle Jones. He did not see Upshaw flying toward him at full speed from the opposite direction.
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Each week, reporter and blogger Matt Vensel breaks down a critical play, sometimes with the help of Ravens players and coaches, from that week's game. Today, he breaks down Courtney Upshaw's key block on a long punt return by Jacoby Jones in Sunday's 19-3 win over the New York Jets.