Through wind and rain, Koch holds on

Through wind and rain, Koch holds on
November 20, 2013, 9:00 pm
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Lost in the Ravens' agonizing overtime loss at Chicago was the fact that were it not for an outstanding play by Ravens' holder Sam Koch, the game might have never even gone to overtime.

After Torrey Smith's 5-yard touchdown catch gave the Ravens a 16-10 lead, the Ravens trotted out the extra-point team, which has been automatic the past two years with Morgan Cox at long snapper, Koch at holder and Justin Tucker at kicker. Tucker has never missed an extra-point try as a pro.

Nothing at Soldier Field on Sunday was automatic though, with 60 mph wind gusts and a playing surface rendered a quagmire by sheets of rain.


On the extra-point try after Smith's touchdown, Cox's snap sailed on Sam Koch, who had to jump up from his customary holder stance, grab the ball and quickly set it down for Tucker, who made the kick.

Holders are rarely noticed unless things go wrong, and Koch's name doesn't show up in the box score on that extra-point kick, but he certainly deserves a lot of credit for it.

"The value is points, right?" coach John Harbaugh said on Wednesday. "For Sam to get up off the ground and grab that ball that was moving … He had an errant fastball there and it was running away from him pretty quick. He grabbed it and then got it back down right on the spot. He had the laces right, too. For ‘Tuck’  ... to be able to slow down his approach and kick the ball straight was pretty amazing, too. That was a great job by those guys.”


Koch recalled a game in Cincinnati a couple of years ago that featured 40 mph wind, but he said the combination of wind and field conditions at Soldier Field on Sunday made for "by far the worst ... variables that we've had to deal with since I've been here." Of course, Koch also had to punt in those conditions as well, and he averaged 44.3 yards on four kicks.

It's impossible to simulate 50 or 60 mph wind in practice, but Koch said he and special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg regularly practice what they call "bad ball drills." With Koch set up for a hold, Rosburg will fire balls high and low and wide to help Koch prepare for any situation. 

"With Morgan, it's like 99.9 percent never going to happen, but that 0.1 percent that it does, you react just like it is in practice."