Offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell and special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg probably exhaled mightily after rookie kicker Justin Tucker nailed a 47-yard field goal to give the Ravens a 38-35 win against the Denver Broncos in double overtime Saturday night, but for different reasons.
Caldwell didn’t have to call another offensive play against a Broncos defense that had finished the regular season ranked second in yards allowed and fourth in points surrendered. But Caldwell called a largely masterful game against Denver.
After collecting a franchise playoff record of 441 yards in a 24-9 victory over the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Wildcard round, the offense racked up 479 yards against the Broncos. The 38 points the Ravens posted were the most against Denver since Oct. 30, 2011 when the Detroit Lions blasted the Broncos, 45-10.
The offense seems to have struck a balance between the run and pass, and quarterback Joe Flacco looks very comfortable with Caldwell calling the shots. Pro Football Talk suggested that Caldwell, who was the head coach in Indianapolis for three years, might have polished his candidacy for several head-coaching vacancies in the NFL, but also pointed out that coordinators of teams preparing to play in conference championship games will not be permitted to interview this week.
At the very least, Caldwell has done enough in his five-game stint as the offensive coordinator to perhaps get a raise and a long-term extension from the Ravens.
On the opposite end of the spectrum is Rosburg, who watched his special teams units surrender a 90-yard punt return and a 104-yard kick return for touchdowns by Trindon Holliday.
The Ravens hadn’t allowed a return on a kick or punt for a score in the regular season, marking the second time in three years that the team had done that. But since 2008 when Rosburg became the coordinator, the units permitted two kick returns for touchdowns in 2008, one punt return in 2009 and a total of three returns (two punt and one kick) in 2011.
Special teams gaffes have contributed to a pair of coaches losing their jobs in-season. The Miami Dolphins fired John Bonamego in Oct. 2010 after the New England Patriots turned a blocked punt, a blocked field goal and a kick return into 21 points in a primetime contest. The Carolina Panthers dismissed Brian Murphy in November after Holliday returned a punt 76 yards for a touchdown.
Considering that the Ravens are just one victory away from their first Super Bowl since the 2000 season, it’s extremely unlikely that the team will part ways with Rosburg now. But if the same mistakes are repeated in Sunday’s AFC championship game against the Patriots, the exit door could be opened much wider.