A hallmark of Gary Kubiak's offensive scheme is using the run to set up the pass. It helps wear down a defense physically throughout the game and forces players to cheat towards the line of scrimmage, which can open up passing lanes down the field and gain nice matchups for the tight ends. By running early, even in the face of failure, it sets up all of those positives later in the game all by faking the handoff to the running back and moving the quarterback. However, the Ravens during the 2014 regular season have failed to utilize what could be one of their best weapons and nearly fell to the Cleveland Browns, losing their playoff bid because of it.
Then, miraculously, Gary Kubiak remembered that Flacco has arguably one of the best fake handoffs in the NFL. Against a team that regularly had eight men in the box against the run all game and were stuffing it quickly, he could get some favorable matchups for his receiving corps that has failed to consistently gain separation all season long. In the fourth quarter alone, quarterback Joe Flacco was able to throw downfield and utilize play action to score an unanswered 17 points. Once the defense had backed off the line of scrimmage, the offense was able to gain a little more room for Justin Forsett to rush for 119 yards, most of which happened in the final few minutes of the game.
After the game while talking to reporters, quarterback Joe Flacco seemed to insinuate that the playcalling finally switched out of run first mode only through desperation. The Ravens will definitely need to be completely with it on all fronts as they enter the playoffs as the sixth seed, facing the Pittsburgh Steelers in the first round. Then again, maybe the mediocre playcalling and coaching was simply a ploy to enter the playoffs with little game tape on what the Ravens can actually do. For another shot at the trophy, we can all hope so.