Ravens Offense Finishing Hot

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When it comes to the fourth quarter, Baltimore is one of the NFL's hottest offenses.

Now, they just need to spread that fire throughout the entire game.

The Ravens are currently scoring the second-most fourth-quarter points in the league with 66, and that is even when many teams still haven't seen the bye week.

Additionally, Baltimore's 101 points scored in the second half have placed them third-best.

Head coach John Harbaugh attributed the phenomenon to several factors.

"You make adjustments but the adjustments aren't anything you haven't worked on all week," Harbaugh said on Wednesday. "Maybe you save some things for the second half; maybe you don't. I just think it's a matter of coming out and playing with responsibility and being physical and maybe coming up with a call or two here or there that makes the difference in any game."

But on the flip-side, the Ravens have been shaky, especially of late.

After posting 27 first-quarter points in their first three contests, the Ravens could only muster a touchdown in a recent three-game losing streak.

During that span, Baltimore is tied with two other teams for the NFL's coldest offense.

"The last three weeks, we've been kind of like that thermostat," wideout Derrick Mason said. "We've been on 65, 70 the first two or three quarters, and then all of a sudden we kick it up to 90 and 100. It's good at times, but we have to be able to start off at 100 – like we did the first three games – to be able to come out first drive and establish ourselves, whether it be run or pass or both and enforce our will on the team.

"And I'm very confident that from here on out, we will do that. So, we have to start off at 100 degrees from here on out."

Rhythm is the key.

Like most other teams, the Ravens have certain plays they script to run early in order to generate momentum out of the gate, while also setting up late-game opportunities.

"I think you always want to get into a rhythm early and come out to a quick start," noted quarterback Joe Flacco. "But at the same time you have to understand, if that's not the way it works, you've got to be patient and keep plugging away, and eventually the game is going to come to you.

"Having said that, we're prepared to get off to a quick start and jump on these guys early so that we can play the game we want to."

Flacco is a major reason for the Ravens' fourth-quarter surge. His 244 passing yards per game in the final period are second-best in the league behind Houston's Matt Schaub.

In Week 6, a 33-31 loss to the Minnesota Vikings, Flacco was a surgeon. He racked up 244 of his career-high 385 passing yards in the fourth quarter, as the Ravens posted 21 points and nearly stole a last-second win on a Steve Hauschka field goal that sailed wide left.

"I think later in the game, we were aggressive and knew what we had to do," Flacco said. "We had 10 minutes left and scored 17 points. I think we just got into a rhythm, and we need to get in that rhythm earlier in the game."

According to Mason, if the Ravens want a hot start this weekend against the Denver Broncos, it is imperative to gain yardage on first and second downs. Then, third down will be more manageable and offensive coordinator Cam Cameron can stick to the game plan.

"We have to make sure that our third downs are third-and-3 or 4 or 5," Mason said. "And when we're in that range, we're very good. There are not many plays you can call when it's third-and 13, third-and 14, even though Cam is a genius, but he can't come up with too many plays.

"So, if we minimize our third down yardage as far as how far we have to go, then we're going to be able to stay on the field."

Denver won't make it easy on the Ravens to continue their fourth-quarter explosiveness. They have allowed the least points in both the fourth quarter (seven) and second half (10).

But the Ravens at least know how critical it is to close out a game strong.

"Look at the Broncos, look how well they're playing in the second half," said Harbaugh. "I think they've given up two, third down conversions in the second half all year – after six games – that's unheard of. So, the second half is going to be very important in this game."

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