During the third quarter when the Lions looked as if they might stage a terrific comeback at the Ravens expense, Terrell Suggs brought his defense together and according to Fox sideline report Pete Schrager, encouraged his defense to forget about what was done and focus upon the present.
The Ravens defense pulled it together and shut down the Lions the rest of the way.
The Ravens offense may have preached a similar sermon prior to their dismantling of the visitors from Detroit. Whatever happened during the first 11 games of the season, really shouldn’t matter. What does matter is what they do going forward and if yesterday is any indication, Joe Flacco & Co. just might be contributors to the team’s success going forward.
It is just one game and it came at the expense of the NFL’s 26th-ranked defense. But it’s a start and it comes at a very opportune time.
“It’s late in the season; it’s December. We pride ourselves on playing good football in December. It hasn’t been ideal to this point, but we have set ourselves up to the point where we are playing meaningful December football, and that’s one of the goals at the end of the day. We’re going to continue to do that, and yes, a game like this, late in the year versus a team that’s also trying to make a push for the playoffs, can definitely do a lot for our confidence.” ~ Joe Flacco following the Ravens 44-20 win over the Lions.
Joe Flacco’s eating Ws today ? pic.twitter.com/u4GKOYLbu4
— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) December 3, 2017
Alex Collins is the Ravens answer to the Tasmanian Devil. He comes out hot, spinning and grinding his way forward. According to Pro Football Focus, Collins gained only 0.6 yards before contact during his 15 carries. Sixty-six of his 75 yards came after contact. On the day, Collins added two impressive scores, 2 catches for another 23 yards and a very creative end zone celebration…Buck Allen continues to find ways to make timely contributions. His stats tell a different story (7 carries, 22 yards), but he wills his way to plus plays when needed. On a first-and-10 at the Detroit 13, Allen had consecutive carries of 9 and 1 yard to set up first-and-goal from the 3. On the next play, Patrick Ricard hauled in his first career TD catch.
Mike Wallace had a strong outing. His 66-yard grab in the second quarter jump started the offense. Later he hauled in a 23-yard back shoulder throw from Flacco, making a terrific, late adjustment to position himself for the catch. During the afternoon, he caught 5 balls for 116 yards, an impressive 23.2 YPC…Jeremy Maclin had an up and down day. He dropped a first quarter first down – a terrific throw from Flacco and then ran out of bounds in an uninspiring fashion on a first quarter crosser. He recovered later making a tough catch for a first down in traffic and his blocking effort along the right sideline helped pave the way for Collins’ first TD scamper…The offensive line had a very solid outing. Ronnie Stanley and Austin Howard were stout bookends and James Hurst did a nice job when pulling on a couple of runs. Overall the front provided Flacco with very adequate protection on 34 of his 36 drop backs.
Michael Pierce’s workload was limited (21 snaps) but that’s a derivative of the Lions’ pass happy scheme. He was effective nonetheless, contributing 6 tackles (5 assists). Five of those credited tackles came on plays gaining just 3, 0, 4, 3 and 1 yard…Brandon Williams fought through a double-team to stop Theo Riddick on a key 3rd-and-1 attempt…Terrell Suggs continues to defy Father Time. He had 5 tackles, 2 for losses, was a terrific edge setter and contributed 5 pressure situations, 1 of which dropped Matt Stafford for a key 4th quarter sack. Suggs now has 10 ½ sacks on the season. His leadership was also on full display during a sideline “chat” with his defensive mates…Willie Henry’s ascent continues. He showed great athleticism following Eric Weddle’s strip sack, scooping up the fumble and rambling 16 yards to the Detroit 36. He also sniffed out a screen to Theo Riddick, dropping the back for a 4-yard loss. Later in the game his co-pressure with Suggs, forced a Stafford INT (Humphrey).
Jimmy Smith showed great recognition skills when anticipating a bubble screen to Golden Tate. He exploded through the receiver at the 11:13 mark of the second quarter for a loss of 1…Brandon Carr showcased proper technique during 2 deep strikes thrown his way. Both passes fell incomplete. He was also good in run support contributing tackles for short gains of 0 and 2 yards…Maurice Canady plays fast and is a technically sound tackler. He anticipates bubble screens and he made a big hit on Lions backup QB Jake Rudock leading to Weddle’s pick-6. Canady markedly improved play will come in handy given the season-ending Achilles injury to Smith…Back to Weddle, the Ravens safety bounced back with a terrific game. He nearly had an interception in the back of the end zone on a deep strike to Marvin Jones, Jr.; his sack and forced fumble in the second quarter helped set up a Ravens touchdown; he added another QB pressure and he capped the Ravens scoring with a 45-yard pick-6…Justin Tucker was flawless. He nailed three FGA’s, the last of which was extremely clutch. With 6:59 left in the game, the Ravens hung on to a 27-20 lead. Following a failed third down play, Tucker took the field to attempt a 51-yard field goal. A miss there and the Lions have great field position to attempt a game tying scoring drive. The kick was perfect.
On the day, the Ravens were +3 in turnover differential and they now have a league best +14 on the season, courtesy of a league-leading 29 takeaways…The coaching staff had a great game plan and had their team ready to play given the short week while facing a team that had 10 days to prepare. John Harbaugh successfully challenged a catch by Wallace that was ruled incomplete on the field…Dean Pees had a nice plan to contain Stafford and to take away one of the Lions favorite plays – the bubble screen. It wasn’t Pees’ fault that Marlon Humphrey had such a bad game, giving up 3 chunk plays. Pees used the dime package often to thwart the dangerous Detroit aerial attack…Marty Mornhinweg and Joe Flacco looked like they were on the same page. Marty had a nice mix of plays and an effective balance of run v. pass (27 v. 36) and they took vertical shots. Following the missed Matt Prater FGA, the first play following the change of possession was the deep crosser to Wallace. You’ve gotta love bringing out a dagger following an opponent’s mistake. Even screen passes, which have regularly been a mess, looked much cleaner…The Ravens had only 2 penalties for 25 yards.
Marlon Humphrey had poor technique on a few Stafford passes giving up plays of 42, 46 and 23 helping to set up 2 of the Lions’ TDs. When Detroit made it a one-possession game cutting the Ravens lead to 27-20 at the 10:24 mark of the 4th quarter, they did so courtesy of a 5-play, 75-yard drive. Sixty-nine of those yards were on passes to players covered by Humphrey…C.J. Mosley and Patrick Onwuasor were both caught in the wash too often on running plays and they were non-factors defending the pass…Kick coverage was sloppy. Maclin, Chris Moore and Ben Watson all dropped passes that would have led to first downs. Maclin’s and Moore’s drops were on third down conversion attempts.
The Ravens have tried to manage Jimmy Smith’s Achilles strain by limiting him in practice and rotating in Humphrey to lessen his in-game workload. But the strain worsened into a torn Achilles, and the loss of Jimmy Smith for the season hurts. He was having an All-Pro season. Fortunately, the Ravens have depth at the position but for the moment, Humphrey will look like an inviting target for Ben Roethlisberger on Sunday night.
UPDATE (11:25 AM)
Ravens’ CB Jimmy Smith is being suspended four games for violating NFL policy of performance enhancing substances, per source.
Now that Smith is out for the year with a torn Achilles, he will withdraw his appeal and begin serving suspension, per source.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) December 4, 2017
THE MEGAN FOX AWARD
He earned the heavy criticisms leading up to this game. And yesterday he earned the accolades that he’ll receive for the balance of this week. Joe Flacco looked extremely comfortable stepping into his throws, delivering strikes on time. His ball skills were sharp, incorporating pump fakes and he even altered his cadence. During plays that looked dead on arrival, he effectively minimized any damage. In the past, he may have forced throws for no gain or even a loss. Yesterday he wisely tossed a couple of throws away. His passer rating on the day (105.0) doesn’t really describe his excellence during the afternoon. He improved from 5.3 YPA on the season with an afternoon that produced 7.5 YPA. If not for 3 drops that would have gone for at least another 36 yards, Flacco’s number would have bumped up to a passer rating of 116.1 and YPA of 8.5.
The Ravens won’t enjoy the benefit of playing a generous defense like the Lions each week, but this is clearly a game that the Ravens offense, and perhaps even more importantly, Joe Flacco, can build upon. And if they do, the Ravens can make some noise in December and possibly January.
What a difference a week can make!