OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Ravens coach John Harbaugh once walked up to Sam Koch and said, "Sam, all you are is a preseason practice punter."
Almost two decades later, Koch could be headed for the team's Ring of Honor after deciding to retire this week.
"The perfectionist that Sam is, right up until the very last practice, I mean if Sam doesn’t hit a perfect punt, Sam is mad," Harbaugh said." And I’m standing right behind him, and I’m hearing it. There are certain names he has for certain punts, and not all of them are printable But you chase perfection and you gain excellence, and that’s what Sam has done.”
Koch, who was selected by Baltimore in the sixth round of the 2006 NFL Draft, spent 16 years as the Raven starting punter, He appeared in a franchise-record 256 regular-season games – 239 of which came consecutively from 2006-20 (also a team record).
A member of Baltimore’s 2012 Super Bowl XLVII Championship team, Koch also played in 20 postseason contests for a total of 276 career games in a Ravens uniform.
Considered one of the NFL’s most innovative punters – and one of the greatest holders of all time – Koch was named to the 2015 Pro Bowl, also earning second-team All-Pro honors that year. Koch was also a Pro Bowl alternate on three occasions (2010, 2014 and 2019).
"Over my career, our punt team was most notable for the many different types of punts that we had created," Koch said. "Our goal was to eliminate returns, not just hit the biggest ball. I am proud of our innovative approach and the success it created."
The Ravens selected Jordan Stout in the fourth round of this year's draft and he will be the punter of the future. Koch plans to remain with the team as a punting consultant.
"I’m just excited to work with Jordan," Koch said. "We are going to try to make him the next best punter of the Ravens and do everything we can to make him the best punter in the league. So, I look forward to this opportunity. We’ve spoken. We’ve talked. We’ve already worked on some punting and holding aspects of his game."
Koch's other accolades:
- A three-time AFC Special Teams Player of the Week, he produced franchise records in punts (1,168), punt yardage (52,868), career gross average (45.3), career net average (39.7) and punts inside the 20 (453). His 1,168 career punts are the most by a punter with a single team in NFL history.
- Koch also held on all but one of K Justin Tucker’s 326 fields goals made, including 17 game-winners, helping Tucker register the best success rate (91.1%) in NFL history.
- On fake punts and kicks during his career, Koch was 7-of-8 passing for 82 yards (109.4 rating). He also scored one rushing touchdown and one two-point conversion on fakes.
- Koch’s 2021 campaign contributed to Baltimore’s special teams unit ranking No. 1 in Football Outsiders’ DVOA rating. (The Ravens also ranked No. 1 in 2012, 2015 and 2017, with Koch helping guide the group.)
- In 2020, Koch was the league’s only punter to place at least 20 punts (22) inside the 20-yard line and have no more than one touchback.
- In 2017, Koch ranked first in the NFL in both punts pinned inside the 20 (40) and inside the 10 (16), and he finished tied for second in punts downed inside the 5 (5).