When the Ravens welcomed the Broncos to Baltimore last month, the offense was going through a significant transition.
Jim Caldwell was still settling in to his new role as the team's offensive coordinator after taking over for Cam Cameron earlier that week.
The surprising move made for an abrupt change for both the coaching staff and players. It was Caldwell's first time calling plays since he coached at Wake Forest more than 10 years ago, and it was also the first time that quarterback Joe Flacco had anybody other than Cameron calling in the plays.
"That week was a little hectic," Flacco said.
The Ravens ended up losing to the Broncos 34-17 that week.
But Caldwell has grown into his new role since that time and the offense has performed at a high level.
In the next two games under Caldwell with starters in the lineup – Week 16 vs. the Giants and last weekend vs. the Colts – the Ravens averaged 28.5 points and 486 yards per game. The Ravens won those games by a combined score of 57-23.
Those two games are among the Ravens' best offensive performances of the season, as the 533 yards against the Giants were the third-highest total in franchise history, and the 439 yards against the Colts was the most ever by the Ravens in the playoffs.
"I think [Caldwell has] been doing a good job," Flacco said. "He's probably a little bit more comfortable throughout the week now and kind of a little bit more settled in."
Caldwell has a better understanding in his new role now.
"There are some things I'm a bit more familiar with, but comfort and settled wouldn't be an appropriate way to describe it," Caldwell said. "Settled in for a coach is probably not an appropriate word. I don't think we ever feel comfortable and settled in. I'm a bit more familiar with some things, I can put it that way."
In the two victories with Caldwell as the coordinator, the common trend for the offense has been the ability to run the ball. The Ravens ran for an average of 198 yards per game against the Colts and Giants, which has been a recipe for success for the offense.
"We were physical, we were able to run the ball," center Matt Birk said. "I think it always starts with that for us. Certainly that's our formula – not to say we can't win games other ways, but that probably gives us the best chance. Go out there, establish the running game and get those guys going."
If the Ravens can keep up with their recent offensive performances Saturday against the Broncos, then they have a good chance of pulling off the upset and returning to the AFC championship for the second straight season.
"What you've done the last two games, 10 games, 16 games, it doesn't matter," Birk said. "It's all about what you do this next one, and that will be on Saturday."