At the Ravens’ bye week, after they were creamed 43-13 by the Houston Texans, coach John Harbaugh was clear with his vision for his team.
He’d just seen running back Ray Rice, who opened that game averaging 9 yards per carry on the Ravens’ first drive when he ran 3 times. Rice only would carry the ball 6 times for the rest of the game.
Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron was fired after Week 14. Jim Caldwell, the quarterbacks coach, had play-caller added to his duties.
While the offense itself hasn't changed, the way the game is called has indeed. Under Caldwell, the Ravens have run 181 times for 811 yards and 5 TDs. That’s 36 rush attempts per game, 10 more than under Cameron.
The Ravens are averaging 162 yards per game on the ground under Caldwell. With Cameron, with whom Harbaugh has a close personal relationship, it was 109.
“I really wouldn't look at it that way. You’d have to go back and look at every game, see what the score was, see how we were running the ball,” Harbaugh said when asked if there was a renewed focus on the running attack. “We've got some confidence in our ability to run the ball now, but we had confidence earlier in the year as well. Every game is different, it really is. So, I hate to put a big label on it like that.”
But how else can it be explained? In a 38-35 divisional playoff win at the Broncos, the Ravens tied the score at 28 in the third quarter after a fumble by Peyton Manning. They ran the ball 5 times in a row, giving it to Rice as he scored from 1 yard out.
In the second overtime, after an interception of Manning gave them the ball on Denver’s 45, Rice ran the ball on 2nd-and-10, getting 11 yards and setting up the Ravens for what would be the game-winning field goal.