In the end, Joe McKnight’s 107-yard kick return for a touchdown in the first quarter didn’t haunt the Ravens in their 34-17 dusting of the New York Jets Sunday night.
But that was of little solace to coach John Harbaugh, who watched New York’s blockers create a lane between linebackers Brendon Ayanbadejo and Albert McClellan and then McKnight outrace safety Tom Zbikowski and rookie cornerback Chykie Brown to the end zone.
That score came just 15 seconds after the Ravens had jumped out to a 7-0 lead off of an Ed Reed sack and strip and a Jameel McClain fumble return for a touchdown.
The long-time special teams coordinator for the Philadelphia Eagles before succeeding Brian Billick as the Ravens head coach, Harbaugh pledged to rectify that mistake.
“We didn’t fit it very well at all,” he said Monday during his weekly briefing. “I would say that it was poor kickoff coverage. We had a safety get too deep on the right side, we had a safety on the left side get completely earholed, but they’re two inexperienced guys who have never played kickoff coverage in the National Football League playing safety for us, and they were both out of position badly. They double-teamed Brendon right at the point of attack and then peeled back and knocked him out of the play. It was just a tremendous block by their guy. Albert made a bad decision on the wedge. He got walled, kicked out on the wedge, and that’s where the ball ran between. Between Albert and between Brendon, and then the two safeties weren’t there to make the play, and it was [kicker] Billy [Cundiff] all by himself. So it wasn’t a lack of effort. It was great execution by them, but it was poor coverage by us.”