While the Ravens have reason to feel good about their 9-2 record – a mark good enough for what would be the No. 2 seed in the AFC if the playoffs began this week – the positive vibes are not universal among the players on offense.
The offense has scored just one touchdown in its last 10 quarters, including the overtime period in Sunday's 16-13 win against the San Diego Chargers. Prior to quarterback Joe Flacco's 4-yard strike to tight end Dennis Pitta with 4:19 left in the fourth quarter, the offense's last score had occurred in the third quarter of the team's 55-20 rout of the Oakland Raiders on Nov. 11 when Flacco connected with wide receiver Torrey Smith for a 20-yard score.
Running back Ray Rice said the onus is on the offense to score touchdowns, not settle for field goals.
"We are getting opportunities. We just have to find ways to execute them," he said Wednesday. "That's the reason that I called ourselves a [ticked] off 9-2 because if we score points, it helps our defense out. Earlier in the year, they were talking about how our defense was playing. Now they are playing lights out. If we piggyback off of each other and just continue to do what we do, we are going to be a force to be reckoned with moving forward."
The Ravens are still in the top half of the NFL in touchdowns produced by the offense. Only 12 other offenses have found the end zone more frequently than the Ravens have this season.
But the offense tied a season low with 12 first downs and compiled just 200 yards in a 13-10 win against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Nov. 18. And the unit slogged its way through five first downs and 90 yards in the first half against the Chargers before rallying for the victory.
Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron pointed out that Pittsburgh led the league in total defense and San Diego ranked eighth when the Ravens met both opponents. He sounded amused about the consternation over the offense's production.
"I just find it a little bit fascinating," he said Thursday. "These other teams, some of them are just pretty good. There have been a couple of games this year where we really haven't scored a lot and we really played better in a lot of ways than we did when we were scoring. We're not where we want to be. We have a lot of areas to improve in, but we are in a lot of ways getting better. Like we always said, we want to start fast, but if we don't, we prefer to finish. I like the mindset of this team that they understand in this business, it's all about how you finish."
The offense has scored three or more touchdowns in five games thus far – including a season-high five in a 55-20 rout of the Oakland Raiders on Nov. 11. But quarterback Joe Flacco acknowledged that the room to grow is there.
"It's frustrating out there a little bit when we're not playing the way we would like to, but it's just the way it goes," he said. "I don't exactly have the answer. We look at the film, and we pick out things that we have to do better. We all understand that. Sometimes it's because there is good defense. Sometimes it's because we need to do something a little bit better. We do the best we can to improve on that each given week. I would say we just need to do it a little bit more consistently."