The Ravens were able to defeat the New England Patriots, 33-14, by running the ball 52 times and throwing only 10 passes.
Considering that Baltimore romped for 234 yards and four touchdowns, it's a safe bet the Indianapolis Colts will key on stopping that punishing attack.
If the Colts do consistently stack the box, however, do the Ravens think they can grind out a second-consecutive victory with another anemic aerial performance? Will the Ravens commit to running the ball if Indianapolis sells out against it?
"Does it matter?" head coach John Harbaugh asked with a chuckle in his Monday press conference. "If we do, it will be with the intention of winning the game. I can guarantee you that.
"That could be the game plan. And maybe we'll throw 50. Who's to say? It's a valid point. All that stuff, if you want to forecast the game and handicap the game and say, okay, can a team do it doing this and doing that – that's great. You guys [the media] can do that. We don't forecast the game. We just try to find a way to put a game plan together that has a chance to win."
Against the Patriots, Baltimore got off to a fast start when running back Ray Rice silenced Gillette Stadium with an 83-yard touchdown romp on the very first snap. The Ravens then pushed out to a 24-pound lead thanks to three first-quarter Patriots turnovers and the pumping legs of Rice, Willis McGahee and Le'Ron McClain.
In fact, the Ravens boasted 147 yards on the ground by halftime. No doubt the Colts will be watching for a similar explosion on Sunday.
Of course, that meant quarterback Joe Flacco's statistics suffered, as he completed only four attempts for 34 yards and also threw a tipped interception.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, he tied former Miami Dolphins quarterback Bob Griese for the fewest yards in a postseason victory in league history. Griese matched Flacco's 34 yards when his Dolphins beat the Oakland Raiders in 1973.
Flacco, for one, is not concerned with his quiet outing.
"I don't know if it's tough [to not throw the ball]," said Flacco. "Who cares? When you're up by all kinds of points and running the ball so well, it doesn't matter if it's tough or easy. You're winning the game."
Harbaugh dismissed the notion that Flacco is hampered by a hip/quadriceps injury, which Flacco himself affirmed after the Patriots contest.
"What Joe's done is he's done what he needs to do to win the football game. He's very much healthy enough to play and to play well," Harbaugh said before adding a special request of the media. "So, the more you guys want to make of the injury situation – that's great. I mean, make it really dire. You know, he's really in bad shape."
The Ravens envision themselves being a multi-dimensional team capable of running or throwing at any time.
Flacco has let it fly for much of the season, actually. In only three games this year – playoffs included – the Ravens failed to reach at least 23 attempts. And one of those games was a dominating, but ground oriented, 16-0 victory over the Cleveland Browns in Week 10.
Not only did he set a franchise record with a 63.1 completion percentage, but his 3,613 passing yards and 21 touchdowns are the second-highest marks in team history.
Still, Flacco's last two performances were the Patriots outing and a win in Oakland where Flacco went 11-of-19 for 102 yards, no touchdowns and no interceptions.
"One thing we don't care about here is numbers," explained Harbaugh. "That's for everybody else. Those numbers don't mean anything to us. And when Joe has to throw the ball 48 times to try to win a game, he'll do that. When we have to throw it 10 times to try to win a game, we'll do that, too. So, I think it speaks to really, kind of the unselfish nature of these guys; of our offensive coaches, of Joe, of the receivers."
Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron said the Ravens were prepared to run the ball all week – all year, even.
He explained that much of the New England game plan dated back to offseason minicamps.
"All the plays we ran in this game were plays we ran in the first practice in May, because those were plays that we believed in and ones we knew, as a staff, we were going to need to run in the playoffs," Cameron said. "We built this offense for the playoffs. And, we wanted our guys confident and running plays they knew. We ran our fundamental offense that allowed our guys to be physical. I thought they did an outstanding job executing."
The Colts, who are ranked 24th in the NFL after allowing 126.5 yards per game this year, feature a front seven that is fast and swarms the ball, but somewhat undersized. Offenses have collected at least 113 rushing yards on 10 occasions.
Could that mean another appearance of the Ravens smash-mouth style, and in turn, another day with Flacco's strong arm holstered?
"I'd like to go through a game where you never threw a pass," Cameron said. "Drew Brees and I used to joke about that [with the San Diego Chargers]. We almost did it in Cleveland one year.
"Everybody wants the ball. My job is to call plays and help us win the game. Our backs are outstanding, our offensive linemen outstanding. That was this game. Come up this week, you never know. It could flip-flop and go the other way. We're going to run the offense we think helps us win the game.