BALTIMORE – Facing a fourth-and-9 at their own 17-yard line, the Ravens caught the fans in attendance at M&T Bank Stadium off-guard with a fake punt late in the first quarter.
So in that essence, the element of surprise worked on some.
The problem, however, was Ravens punter Sam Koch didn’t fool Chiefs safety Daniel Sorensen and tight end Demetrius Harris.
“That’s my job at that position is to first check to see if it’s a fake,” Sorensen said. “And as I was about to turn and run, I saw the punter take a step forward and it looked unnatural, so I turned around and tried to close in as quick as possible.”
Sorensen got to Koch first and Harris came in to help take down Koch after a 7-yard gain, resulting in the Ravens turning the ball over on downs to the Chiefs at Baltimore’s 24-yard line.
“Sorensen made a great play and I came in with the assist,” Harris said. “That was a great job of reading of it by Sorensen.”
Still, did the Ravens really think a fake punt at that field position would catch the Chiefs flatfooted?
“We thought we would get it,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh told the Baltimore media.
The field position may have worked in Baltimore’s favor against another team, but the Chiefs had potential fakes on their radars.
“We were thinking fourth-and-9, they’re backed up, not particularly a situation you would think of to run a fake punt,” Sorensen said. “But we were on alert I think for the whole game. That definitely helped with the coaches getting us prepared for that.”
The warning didn’t come just on gameday, as Harris said the Chiefs special teams unit was reminded in the days leading to the game the Ravens could try a trick play.
“Our coach was telling us to watch the fake,” Harris said. “The whole week he was saying just watch any fake, it doesn’t matter.”
What may have tipped the scale in the Chiefs’ favor is the past relationship between Andy Reid and Harbaugh, who served as a special teams coordinator under Reid in Philadelphia.
The Chiefs players were fully aware of what could happen Sunday.
“They’re a great special teams unit all around, blocking kicks and running fakes, just a good unit,” Sorensen said. “There was a lot of emphasis of being sound and not giving up anything on field goal or punt or giving them an extra possession or any reason to get back in the game and try and make a big play on special teams.”
Kansas City made the Ravens pay for the botched fake punt three plays later when quarterback Alex Smith found wide receiver Jeremy Maclin for a 13-yard touchdown pass to extend the lead to 21-7.
The Chiefs went on to win the game 34-14.