Behind Justin Tucker and a staunch defense, the Baltimore Ravens beat the Detroit Lions, 18-16, on Monday night in Detroit. It was Baltimore’s fourth consecutive win, which is now the top win streak in the AFC.
Statistically, the game was pretty even. The Lions had 19 first downs to Baltimore’s 18, 63 offensive plays to Baltimore’s 60 and eight penalties to Baltimore’s seven.
The one stat the Ravens dominated was the one stat that changes games instantly: turnovers. The Ravens forced three turnovers and committed none. It was a welcomed about-face, as Baltimore gave the ball away to the Vikings three times last week.
The Ravens may have even set a record, as a defensive lineman, linebacker and defensive back all recorded interceptions in the same game.
Baltimore’s defense played outstanding football. They gave up what looked to be an easy 14-yard touchdown to Reggie Bush early in the game. But during the last 55:57, the Ravens surrendered just 9 points.
They also held All-Pro wide receiver Calvin Johnson to under 100 yards receiving (98). Johnson came into Monday’s game averaging 113 yards per game.
Then there was rookie safety Matt Elam. He made headlines earlier this week while speaking about Johnson, but he (Elam) had the better game. He was the leading tackler between both teams (10) and made the game-clinching interception (the first of his career).
It wasn’t all good news for the purple and black. They didn’t show up in the red zone (0-for-3) and their third down conversion rate (29 percent) was below the worst average in the league (Tampa Bay, 32 percent).
Late in the game the Ravens received a scare as Joe Flacco took a helmet to the knee after he delivered a pass to Marlon Brown. Flacco got up and played the rest of the game, but after watching the replay it did not look good.
After the game Flacco said, “It feels fine. It feels strong.”
Speaking of strong, let’s take a moment and soak in the performance Tucker put forth on Monday night. Six field goals attempted, six field goals converted. The last of those kicks was a 61-yarder that gave the Ravens the lead for good with 38 seconds remaining in the game.
Those six field goals and that 61-yarder are both Ravens records.
In Week 2, Tucker missed field goals from 50 and 44 yards. Since then, he’s converted 33 consecutive attempts. Five of Baltimore’s eight wins have been decided by three points or less. Can you say 2013 team MVP?
Obviously they’d like to get touchdowns instead of field goals and not wait until the last minute to take the lead. But don’t think for one second the Ravens are dissatisfied with this win. They won a road game against a division leader that was averaging 32 points per game at home.
I’ve said it many times before and I’ll say it again: the NFL is not the BCS. A win is a win.
This Ravens team has holes, but they have talent and they believe in each other. They’re also on the longest win streak in the NFL (tied with San Francisco).
It certainly seems like they’re playing their best football at the most imperative time—just like they usually do.