Recap: Lions crumble, Stafford hurt in Baltimore
The Lions defense was thoroughly embarrassed on Sunday afternoon by the 31st ranked defense in the NFL during a 44-20 drubbing at the hands of the Ravens.
More importantly, Matt Stafford went down with a hand injury to his throwing hand midway through the fourth quarter and did not return. With today's performance, the Stafford injury and the Lions place in the standings, the playoffs seem out of reach. The only hope they have is to win the rest of their games and hope for a collapse by another NFC team.
Before Stafford's injury, the Lions found themselves on the comeback trail, something that is problematic. They fell behind 20-0 in the first half. It's the fourth week in a row they've trailed by double digits at a game's outset. They cut their deficit to 27-20 early in the fourth quarter, but the defense just caved from there.
It's nothing short of amazing that in a year when the Packers lose Aaron Rodgers, the Vikings start their third string quarterback and the Bears start a rookie, that the Lions, with Stafford at the helm, cannot come anywhere near winning the NFC North.
Joe Flacco was 23-for-39 with 269 yards (season high) and two touchdowns.
Stafford finished 24-for-29 for 292 yards, a touchdown, an interception and a fumble.
Matt Prater missed a field goal and an extra point to leave four points on the field.
Ravens add insult to injury
Eric Weddle picked off Jake Rudock and returned the ball 44 yards for a touchdown that puts the Ravens, the team with the 31st ranked offense in the league, up 44-20 with 2:26 remaining.
Rudock completed his first official pass in the NFL for a three-yard gain to Golden Tate. He came back and hit Kenny Golladay for 13 yards out to the 41. Theo Riddick took a screen pass to midfield, but Rudock fired the second down pass into the ground. On third down, the Lions were called for holding. On the next play, Rudock was intercepted by Weddle.
Lions defense crumbles
The Lions defense decided to pack it in after the offense turned the ball over. Instead of holding the Ravens to a field goal that would have kept it a two possession game, the defense let Baltimore march right down the field. An encroachment penalty and a holding penalty gave the Ravens two first downs in the red zone. That was all Alex Collins needed, as he bounced outside for a six-yard score that pushes the lead to 37-20 with 4:00 remaining.
Stafford throws INT, hurt on the play
Matt Stafford was dropped for a sack on first down to put the Lions well behind the chains. On the very next play, Stafford slung a ball down the field into traffic, where it was picked off by Marlon Humphrey.
Stafford got up slowly, clutching at his right hand after the play. He's heading back to the locker room.
With 5:44 remaining, it's still 30-20.
Tucker hits from deep
Justin Tucker drilled a 51-yard field goal to give the Ravens a 30-20 lead with 6:54 left to play.
The Lions let the Ravens return the kickoff out to the 44. On third-and-2, Joe Flacco hit Alex Collins coming out of the backfield on a play-action pass, a play that the Lions have proven they can't defend. The defense stiffened from there, but with Tucker kicking, it was never going to make a difference. The Ravens already had gotten into his range.
Stafford finds linebacker Bellore for TD
The Lions struck back quickly as Matt Stafford hit backup linebacker Nick Bellore for a 1-yard touchdown that cuts the Baltimore lead to 27-20 with 10:20 remaining in the game.
Stafford found Marvin Jones on the first play of the drive for a 46-yard gain into Ravens territory. Michael Roberts reeled in a 23-yard pass to get the Lions down to the goal line.
Ravens catch Lions napping
Alex Collins rumbled into the end zone from seven yards out and the Ravens are back in control with a 27-13 lead with 12:39 remaining in the game.
The Lions thought they had forced a fumble, but Joe Flacco hurried to the line to avoid a challenge and snapped the ball quickly, finding Chris Moore for a 23-yard gain and a first down at the Lions' 10. Replays showed it was clearly an incomplete pass, and the Lions were just caught looking at the sidelines on third down. It came to light that the Lions had only nine players on the field for that third down conversion.
Green finds his way into end zone
Tion Green took the pitch and bounced off one of his own linemen as he approached the goal line. He didn't stop going, though, powering his way into the end zone for a six-yard touchdown that puts the Lions right back in this game, cutting the Ravens lead to 20-13 with 2:15 remaining in the third quarter.
The touchdown is the first of Green's career.
Matt Prater missed the extra point after missing an earlier field goal. It's been an unusually off day for one the Lions' most reliable players.
A roughing the passer penalty helped give the Lions good field position out to their own 44. A quick screen to Golden Tate set up a third-and-1, and the Lions came back with a play-action pass where Matt Stafford found Eric Ebron for 13 yards down to the 32. After a short run by Tion Green, Stafford found a wide open Tate to get the ball down to the 6.
Ansah goes down
The Lions were able to force another Ravens punt, but it came at a cost as Ziggy Ansah, back in the game after being called questionable to return with an ankle injury earlier on, went down with a seemingly more serious injury.
Matt Stafford and Co. have the ball back at their own 25 with 6:23 remaining in the third quarter, trailing 20-7.
Lions can't convert in short-yardage siuation
The Lions got the ball back to their offense, but an old problem reared its ugly head when, on third-and-1, the Lions gave the ball to Theo Riddick and were stopped short of the line to gain.
The Lions punted the ball back to the Ravens, who will take over leading 20-7 with 7:26 remaining in the third quarter.
Lions find the end zone to start 2nd half
Theo Riddick bounced outside and into the end zone for a four-yard touchdown that cuts the Ravens lead to 20-7 with 12:11 remaining in the third quarter.
Stafford found Golden Tate on third-and-8 for a 14-yard gain out to the 41. Two plays later, it was Eric Ebron reeling in a 12-yard completion into Baltimore territory. On the next play, Stafford caught the Ravens with 12 men on the field and threw the ball downfield, where Marvin Jones made a leaping catch to get the Lions inside the Baltimore 5.
Ravens add another field goal before the half
The Lions went three-and-out and gave the ball back to Baltimore at the Lions 45. That's when Joe Flacco hit Mike Wallace for a 17-yard gain to make Justin Tucker's life a little easier. The All-Pro kicker hit from 46 yards to stretch the Ravens lead to 20-0 at the half.
It was a first half to forget for the Lions, who got into Baltimore territory three times and came up with zero points. They were outgained by Baltimore, the 31st ranked offense in the NFL, 227-133.
Stafford finished the half 10-for-14 for 91 yards and a fumble.
=Flacco was decidedly better, going 15-for-22 for 192 yards and two touchdowns.
Rick Wagner and Ziggy Ansah both left the game with ankle injuries for the Lions.
Ravens add to lead
Joe Flacco hit Patrick Ricard for a three-yard touchdown pass that puts the Lions in a 17-0 hole with 6:54 remaining in the first half.
The big play on the short drive came when Joe Flacco hit Mike Wallace falling out of bounds. It appeared initially that Wallace juggled the ball before going out of bounds, but the Ravens challenged the incomplete pass call on the field and it was overruled, setting Baltimore up with a first down just 13 yards from pay dirt.
Lions fumble away chance for points
Kenny Golladay reeled in a pass from Matt Stafford for a 31-yard gain on a nice catch-and-run by the rookie. Three plays later, on third down, Stafford was rocked by Eric Weddle and fumbled the ball. The Ravens recovered and will take over in Lions territory.
Lions right tackle Rick Wagner was hurt on the play.
Baltimore will start at the Lions 35, leading 10-0, with 9:42 remaining in the first half.
The Lions have had the ball in Ravens territory three times today and failed to produce a single point.
Big play helps Ravens stretch lead
Well, this sure feels familiar.
It took the Ravens just two plays to turn Matt Prater's missed field goal into seven points. Joe Flacco hit Mike Wallace for a 66-yard gain down to the Lions 1, and on the very next play, Flacco found Benjamin Watson for a touchdown.
With 11:52 remaining in the first half, it's 10-0, and the Lions are down by double digits in the first half for the fourth consecutive week.
Matt Prater pushed a 43-yard field goal attempt wide left and the Lions still trail 3-0 with 12:50 remaining in the first half.
Lions fans that have been asking for Tion Green to get a shot got their wish today. Green delivered on his first career carry, going 33 yards down to the Baltimore 31. Green was bottled up on the next play, and on second down, Matt Stafford was lucky to not be picked off in the end zone by Eric Weddle. A short pass on third down to Golden Tate was not enough to pick up the first down.
Fumbled snap costs Lions points
Theo Riddick turned a short pass into a 27-yard gain that got the Lions into Baltimore territory. The Lions went into their no-huddle offense, and on third-and-3, Matt Stafford found Darren Fells for a first down at the 33. A short run by Riddick and an incomplete pass down the sideline to Marvin Jones set up a third-and-8, but the Lions never got the play off as Stafford fumbled the snap and went backwards to recover it, knocking the Lions out of field goal range.
With 1:50 remaining in the first quarter, the Ravens will start at their own 5.
Ravens take early lead
Justin Tucker got the Ravens on the board with a 38-yard field goal that gives Baltimore a 3-0 lead with 5:57 remaining in the first quarter.
Joe Flacco hit Jeremy Maclin for a third down conversion that got Baltimore down to the Lions 34. The offense produced another first down on the next play with a screen pass to Nick Boyle that went for 12 yards. After a short completion on first down, the Lions were able to stuff Alex Collins on second down. On third-and-7, Flacco threw the ball out of bounds as he was flushed from the pocket.
Drops cost Lions on opening possession
Matt Stafford found Eric Ebron on a big third down conversion that got the Lions out of the shadow of their own end zone, but the drive stalled after that as Kenny Golladay and Golden Tate both dropped passes on the ensuing downs.
With 9:46 remaining, Baltimore will take over near midfield after a late hit was called on the Lions during the punt return.
Defense digs in at midfield
The slow-starting Lions won the coin toss and elected to defer to the second half this time around. The team and coach Jim Caldwell were widely criticized last week for taking the ball even though they've been notoriously slow to start games.
An offsides penalty on Jarrad Davis gave Baltimore an early first down at their own 35. Joe Flacco hit Benjamin Watson for an 18-yard gain to get out across midfield. The Lions stiffened from there, forcing a Ravens punt.
With 12:36 remaining in the first quarter, the Lions will take over at their own 3.
LIONS AT RAVENS
Kickoff: 1 p.m. Sunday, M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore
Records: Lions 6-5, Ravens 6-5
Series: Ravens lead, 3-1 (Ravens 18, Lions 16, Dec. 16, 2013)