John Harbaugh: 'Greatest punt in history of football' wasn't a touchback

John Harbaugh has been enthused about Sam Koch's punting performance this season. Benny Sieu/USA TODAY Sports

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- On the stat sheet, Sam Koch's punt midway through the third quarter was a touchback. To Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh, the kick represented something more significant.

"I thought it was the greatest punt in the history of football," Harbaugh said.

In Sunday's 23-0 win in Green Bay, Koch's 52-yard punt perfectly stopped a few inches from the goal line. But officials ruled that a diving Maurice Canady touched the ball when his right foot touched the goal line.

Replays showed Canady came close but didn't come in contact with the ball. Still, the ruling was upheld after the Ravens' replay challenge.

"They said that they couldn't tell," Harbaugh said. "It's in New York, so it's hard for the [officials] on the field to really explain the reasoning. I don't think they always know."

Koch, a Pro Bowl selection in 2015, has revolutionized the punting game in recent years. Koch has roughly 10 distinctly different kicks that manipulate the torque and rotation of punts.

On Sunday, his third punt of the day traveled 51 yards in the air and first landed at the 12-yard line. It was apparent that Koch put the exact right amount of English on the ball as it bounced three more times toward the end zone before spinning back slightly when it reached the goal line. The punt came to a halt between the 1-yard line and the goal line.

"I thought it was the greatest punt play in the history of football, or at least, the history that I've seen," said Harbaugh, who was a long-time special teams coach with the Eagles before becoming the Ravens head coach. "I've seen all the punts in the National Football League for the last 20 years, and that’s the best one I've ever seen."

Harbaugh wasn't alone in this assessment.

Pat McAfee, the former punter for the Indianapolis Colts, posted on Twitter: "Sam Koch has just completed the most perfect punt in the history of the world. That right there ladies and gentlemen is what every single punter is attempting to do every single time he steps on the field."

Koch currently ranks second in the NFL with 12 punts inside the 10-yard line this season, which is one behind Houston's Shane Lechler. But, in the estimation of many, Koch should be tied atop the league if the officials had ruled his outstanding kick the right way.