For a team that is typically balanced offensively, the Ravens certainly looked pass-happy in Sunday's 27-21 loss to the New England Patriots.
Quarterback Joe Flacco!(/team/roster/joe-flacco/3e20766f-6520-4ca1-9901-44389aaea8b8/ "Joe Flacco") threw a career-high 47 passes, completing 27 of them for 264 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. That was offset by only 17 total rushes, far below the 34 run attempts the Ravens averaged over their first three contests.
The aerial emphasis was not necessarily planned, however.
New England seemed to enter the Week 4 showdown with a goal of stopping the run by packing the box and forcing Flacco to beat them with his arm.
"The way they line up certainly makes it profitable to throw the ball," said head coach **John Harbaugh** in a press conference on Monday. "We ran the ball well, and I think every game's going to be different."
The Ravens did run the ball well, totaling 116 yards, 103 of which went to running back Ray Rice!(/team/roster/ray-rice/9d941a20-0c76-412d-85fd-165a029d59e6/ "Ray Rice"). With Rice's 50-yard scamper in the third quarter, Baltimore averaged a season-best 6.8 yards per carry.
And the Ravens have had success with their ground attack all season.
Through four games, Baltimore is the NFL's fifth-rated rushing offense, totaling 146.5 yards a week.
"They are certainly good against the run, and they do things to take away your game," center Matt Birk!(/team/roster/matt-birk/f7490078-5e55-4d88-adfc-334ae2919b31/ "Matt Birk") said. "With us being a running team, you want to stop that first. That's just the way it played out.
"I think the good thing for us is that we've shown we are balanced. We can run and we can pass. Every offense I've been a part of has that balance. It's tough to be one-dimensional."
Even though Flacco's strong arm got an uncharacteristic workout last weekend, the Ravens can claim both dimensions.
Baltimore's sixth-ranked passing unit (267.0 yards per game) is still among the league's elite under innovative offensive coordinator **Cam Cameron**.
Cameron and Flacco – along with the rest of the offense - were put to the test at the end of each half at Gillette Stadium.
As the first half closed, the Ravens were looking to shorten a 17-7 New England lead. Executing a two-minute drill with essentially three minutes left on the clock, Flacco dropped back six consecutive times (he was sacked once) before he was intercepted at the 9-yard line by Patriots cornerback Leigh Bodden.
Then, as the game was coming to an end, Flacco helmed another two-minute drill with the aim of scoring a game-winning touchdown. The 13-play drive, which ended when a fourth-down shot to wideout **Mark Clayton** bounced off his chest, featured 11 passes and marched to New England's 14-yard line.
"When you're trying to get down the field like that, suddenly 25-30 passes turns into 40-50," Flacco said. "We took what they gave us, but those times called for the two-minute [offense]."
Neither drive yielded any points, but Harbaugh was still enthused with what he saw.
"There were two 2-minute drills that I thought we executed great," Harbaugh said. "[There are] a lot of passes, obviously in the 2-minute drill, a lot of great catches. We threw the ball a lot in the 2-minute. [We] would have loved to see both of those drives finished off with touchdowns. What a difference that would have made.
"That's part of the process of getting better. We ran the ball, we ran the ball well. That's kind of the way the game played out."
The Ravens believe they can adapt to any situation a defense offers and succeed. But against the Patriots, it was certainly a one-sided affair.
"We've said many times before: We can come out and throw the ball 50 times a game, 60 times a game," Harbaugh stated. "We may run it 50, 60 times a game. Every game, you can't be exactly sure exactly which way it's going to go. In the end, it'll balance out to some extent.
"But, I think the play calling has been tremendous, and the results have obviously borne that out."