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Ravens special teams persevered through uneven outing against Colts

The Ravens are accustomed to getting an edge from their special teams. A rare gaffe from that unit nearly cost the team in Saturday’s 23-16 win over the Indianapolis Colts at M&T Bank Stadium.

Nursing a seven-point lead with less than three minutes left in the fourth quarter, the Ravens lined up for a punt from their own 41-yard line. But Indianapolis rookie linebacker Anthony Walker broke through the middle of the Ravens’ front and blocked Sam Koch’s punt, which was recovered by rookie linebacker Tarell Basham at the 27 with 2:36 remaining.

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Long snapper Morgan Cox took the blame for the error that led to Koch’s first blocked punt since Sept. 5, 2013.

“I got called to the left, and the guy was lined right there in the left A gap,” he said. “He crossed my face, I tried to track with him and he just got my edge and got past me.”

Asked what he could have done to prevent that, Cox replied, “Block better. If I get beat like that, I should hold him. There are a lot of different things. The guy that beat me put on a good rush. Just a lot of things going on.”

Ultimately though, the mistake did not harm the team as the defense prevented the Colts from tying the score. For that, Cox was grateful.

“Thank God for our defense,” he said. “I could give all those guys a big hug. That’s part of the team game, and I’m fortunate for that. I let the guys down on that last play, but fortunately on a team you’ve got guys to pick you up on the other side. So I’m appreciative of those guys.”

To be fair, special teams also had its good moments. Justin Tucker converted all three field goals to become the fastest true kicker to reach 800 career points, and strong safety Tony Jefferson blocked Indianapolis kicker Adam Vinatieri’s 38-yard field-goal attempt with 1:10 left in the first quarter.

Jefferson split the gap between two Colts players on the right side of the line and leaped to block Vinatieri’s kick. Jefferson also recovered the fumble at the Ravens’ 29-yard line, which the offense converted into a 6-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Joe Flacco to wide receiver Michael Campanaro.

“We got what we wanted in that situation,” Jefferson said. “I knew I had to make a play, and we did. ... It’s film study and stuff like that. Great call by [special teams coordinator] Jerry [Rosburg]. He studies the game really well, and opportunities like that come from great coaching.”

The block was the team’s 13th since 2014, which ties the Miami Dolphins for the second most over that span. Before that play, Vinatieri had not had a field-goal attempt blocked since Nov. 3, 2013 in a win against the Houston Texans.

Tucker said Saturday night exemplified the trust the offense, defense and special teams have built with each other.

“It’s a great feeling, especially knowing that our three different phases of our game can pick each other up when we need them the most,” Tucker said. “We obviously had the mishap at the end of the game with our special teams, but our defense came through in a big, big way.”

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