For the first three quarters of Sunday's game against the Chargers, the Ravens offense was stagnant. They scored on just one of their first nine possessions and had four three-and-outs.
The early woes put the Ravens into a 13-3 hole before they got the ball midway through the fourth quarter.
But then something changed.
The offense clicked, and the Ravens scored on three of their final four possessions, marching down the field in the final minutes of regulation and overtime to secure a thrilling 16-13 comeback victory.
So what was the difference?
"We were forced to open it up a little bit," Head Coach John Harbaugh said Monday. "Obviously, we spread it out, because we were down 10 in the fourth quarter, and we had no choice and we probably changed gears. We got into a little more of a no-huddle, up-tempo type of a deal."
The situation dictated that the Ravens pass and try to score quickly, so they went with their aerial attack orchestrated by quarterback Joe Flacco.
They operated almost exclusively out of the shotgun and passed 79 percent of the time in the fourth quarter and overtime. Earlier in the game, the Ravens were more committed to the running game and working out of more traditional two-back sets.
Here is a closer look at the contrast from the first three quarters compared to the fourth and overtime (Note: this excludes the three knee downs Flacco took near the end of overtime to set up Justin Tucker's game-winning field goal):
|Run Plays||Pass Plays||Shotgun Snaps|
|4Q and Overtime:||7||28||31|
"We were in more conventional type sets early in the game – we were playing that kind of a game a little bit more," Harbaugh said. "[Late in the game] [w]e were in three-wides; we spread people out. Joe was in the gun, and we were able to mix in some runs when they were in six-box."
The transition to spread approach in the fourth quarter and overtime is a credit to how the offense has evolved this season.
The Ravens committed to running an up-tempo offense earlier in the year, but backed off it in recent weeks after struggling on the road. Switching to the up-tempo showed that the Ravens can still run it, and Harbaugh is confident they can use both the power offense and no-huddle approach at a high level.
"The thing that's the takeaway for me is the fact that we have grown into the ability to play really any type of game on offense that we need to play," Harbaugh said. "If we can shift gears and get in and out of that kind of stuff, or we can jump into a no-huddle, spread-type of offense and run it, and then jump back into a power running game and [play] it that way… that just gives us more weapons, more tools.
"That's what I give Cam [Cameron] credit for, give the offensive coaches credit for, and the players – the fact that they're able to shift gears in a heartbeat and run a different offense really effectively and execute," Harbaugh said.