Bird prey: Lions picked apart in crushing loss to Ravens
Baltimore — On a day where the Pontiac Silverdome failed to properly implode, the team that called the stadium home for 27 years had no such issues. With playoff implications hanging in the balance, the Detroit Lions went on the road and got rocked by the Ravens, 44-20.
Despite an extending layoff following Thanksgiving, the Lions failed to solve the team’s issues with slow starts, allowing the Ravens to score the game’s first 20 points.
Starting across midfield due to a late hit on the punt return, the Ravens opened the scoring with a 38-yard Justin Tucker field goal in the opening quarter.
BOX SCORE: Ravens 44, Lions 20
Following a missed field goal by Lions kicker Matt Prater, the Ravens began a second-quarter drive with a deep shot. Working out of the slot, wide receiver Mike Wallace raced past the deepest defender, safety Glover Quin, and caught a 66-yard bomb from quarterback Joe Flacco down to the 1-yard line. The Ravens finished the job when Flacco found tight end Ben Watson on the next play.
On the ensuing possession, the Lions failed to mark blitzing safety Eric Weddle, who destroyed quarterback Matthew Stafford from the blindside, forcing a fumble. The Ravens recovered in Lions’ territory and drove 36 yards in six plays, finishing in the end zone once again, with a 3-yard pass from Flacco to fullback Patrick Ricard.
The Ravens tacked on three more as time expired in the first half, extending their edge to 20-0 with a 46-yard boot by Tucker.
After the punchless start, the Lions came out of the locker room with new life to begin the third quarter. Stafford found Golden Tate to convert a third down, then connected with Marvin Jones for a 42-yard gain into the red zone. Running back Theo Riddick capped the series with a 4-yard touchdown run around the left side.
After the teams traded punts, the Lions got within one score near the end of the third quarter. A late hit on Stafford, play-action completion to tight end Eric Ebron and a 24-yard pass to Tate got the offense back inside the 10. Rookie running back Tion Green, making his season debut, punched it in from six yards out, but a missed extra point made it, 20-13.
Green led the Lions with 51 yards on 11 carries.
The Ravens responded with a nine-play, 74-yard touchdown drive to push their lead back to 14, 27-13.
The Lions had hit Flacco on the second-down play and the ball popped free, but it was ruled an incomplete pass because the quarterback’s arm was coming forward. In the post-play confusion, the Ravens caught the Lions with nine defenders on the field and converted the third-and-7 play to the Lions 10. Two plays later, running back Alex Collins rushed across the goal line from seven yards out.
The Lions fought back with another long completion to Jones, this one for 46 yards. A picture-perfect pass from Stafford to rookie tight end Michael Roberts, between a trio of defenders, put the Lions at the 1 and Stafford found fullback Nick Bellore out of play-action to make it 27-20.
But again, the Ravens countered, this time a 51-yard Tucker field goal. The score was set up by a 44-yard kickoff return.
From there, things quickly unraveled for the Lions. Stafford was intercepted by Marlon Humphrey, snapping a franchise-record streak of 20 consecutive completions. To make matters worse, the quarterback was injured on the play after his hand was stepped on by linebacker Terrell Suggs.
Stafford finished 24-for-29 for 292 yards, one touchdown and an interception.
Following the turnover, the Ravens needed four plays for Collins to work back into the end zone.
Taking over for Stafford, Jake Rudock was intercepted on his fifth throw by Weddle, who brought it back 45 yards for a touchdown with 2:36 remaining, finalizing the scoring.
The 24 points in the fourth quarter tied the Ravens’ record for points in a quarter.