One of several key plays in the Ravens' 30-23 loss at the New England Patriots on Monday night involved Patriots linebacker Shea McClellin leaping over Ravens long snapper Morgan Cox and blocking kicker Justin Tucker's 34-yard field-goal attempt to preserve a 2-0 lead in the first quarter.
It was a perfectly executed play by McClellin, who timed his jump so he did cross the line of scrimmage before Cox snapped the ball to holder Sam Koch.
He also leaped high enough so that he didn't touch Cox, which also would have been an infraction and a Ravens first down.
From the Ravens' standpoint, the play could ahve been avoided if they changed their snap count.
"If you have two different snap counts, you don't necessarily know which one we're going to use," Cox said. "It's the same as the offense, but the principle applies. If you don't know the snap count, then it's a lot harder to anticipate. You can anticipate it and say, 'We're going to do it anyway and just take the five yards if we're wrong.' But the principle stays the same. If you have two snap counts, you don't know which one we're going to use."
Without spilling trade secrets, special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg seemed to agree. "We have a mechanism to handle that," he said. "We didn't necessarily have it engaged. We didn't do it as well. We need to coach it better. It's not like when it happens, it's going to work. That's not the case. That's not the case with us, and that's not the case with most teams. They did it at exactly the right time, and they did it very well, and I give them credit."
Some observers have questioned whether leaping over a long snapper should be allowed. Rosburg declined to discuss his opinion on that issue.
"That's not my judgment," he said. "I don't think there should be any contact going over the top, which there wasn't. It was a legal play. I think that should refined and defined. But what happened in our game, in my view, was not illegal. If they make it illegal, then we won't see it anymore. But the way the rules are now, it is legal."