When Cyrus Jones breezed down the sideline for his first career touchdown Sunday, Baltimore celebrated along with its homegrown hero.
“That’s the thing. He had been doing a great job of really solidifying as far as the ball security part back there,” Harbaugh said Monday. “And that’s where it starts. You have to have that. You have to have a punt catcher before you have a punt returner.”
The former Gilman star faced a nightmare rash of muffs and fumbles as a rookie returner for the New England Patriots in 2016. A torn ACL wiped out his 2017 season.
But Jones has not mishandled a single punt in his time with the Ravens — a significant relief after the team struggled to find a sure-handed returner to start the season.
The Ravens’ collective performance on his touchdown against the Oakland Raiders warmed Harbaugh’s special-teams-loving heart.
“I mean the speed and space on that play and the geometry that’s involved, to not have a penalty is really challenging,” he said. “I know it frustrates people. It frustrates me more than anybody. But to have that so cleanly blocked without a foul, it was a great job.”
Asked if he was looking for a yellow flag out of the corner of his eye, Harbaugh grinned.
“I saw it clean,” the former special-teams coordinator said. “As soon as he caught it, I could tell he had some room. I’ve got a lot of experience watching these plays from the sideline, so I could see it was blocked, or going to be blocked. And then you just hope everybody makes good decisions. And they did.”