Ravens driven to distraction

Ravens Gameday

Lions 35, Ravens 17


DETROIT -- Drives like the one the Detroit Lions put together in the third quarter yesterday -- when the time of possession approaches double digits and the end zone is found -- tend to debilitate the opposing team physically and emotionally.

The Ravens can now attest to that.

After allowing a drive of 10 or more plays only once this year, the Ravens gave up an 18-play, 73-yard touchdown march that took 9:38 off the clock in their 35-17 loss to the Lions. Afterward, the team was spent, picking up a personal foul and an ejection on the extra-point attempt, then giving up touchdowns on the Lions' next two possessions.

"We strive for three-and-outs," defensive tackle Kelly Gregg said. "But they just came out and executed better than we did."

It was the type of drive that had longtime Ravens searching their memory banks trying to recall if something similar had ever taken place.

On the drive, the Lions converted four first downs, and the Ravens were hit with six penalties, five of which were major infractions (15 yards). And a game that looked like it was set up for a Ravens comeback victory shifted permanently after Artose Pinner squirmed into the end zone from 1 yard for a 21-10 lead.

"They really chewed up a lot of the clock with the running game and just keeping the drive going converting third downs," cornerback Deion Sanders said.

For a brief moment, it looked like the Ravens would escape by allowing a field-goal attempt. Running back Kevin Jones was kept out of the end zone twice from 1 yard, and Joey Harrington's third-down pass fell incomplete.

But Maake Kemoeatu was hit with an unsporstmanlike conduct penalty for an obscene gesture directed toward the crowd, giving the Lions an automatic first down. Jones was stopped twice again before giving way to Pinner, who fought through an initial wall on third down and squeezed into the end zone.

The touchdown was challenged by the Ravens but upheld on review. That did not sit well with linebacker Ray Lewis.

"To be on the goal line like we were, you have to take your hat off to the way our defense played," Lewis said. "I still believe, to this day, that he did not get in. As many times as the replay showed it, I just do not believe it. God himself is going to have to come down and tell me he got in the end zone. Nobody else."

Not surprisingly, Pinner, who along with Jones and Shawn Bryson, gashed the Ravens' defense for 167 yards, viewed things differently.

"I was thinking about jumping, but Ray Lewis jumped over the top," Pinner said. "I went underneath and if you could see it, the linebackers got pushed back on my last burst, and that's what gave me the score."

Even the Ravens' defense, often lauded for its fortitude, caved after that. Harrington threw for a touchdown on the Lions' next possession, and Bryson made his only rushing attempt of the day a memorable one, shooting straight up the middle of the field for a 77-yard touchdown the drive after that.

By then, the damage done to the Ravens' defense was moot. A defense that came into the game No. 2 overall in the NFL had already been unraveled by a painstakingly long drive.

"Yeah, that was very pivotal, very important," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "Obviously, you can't let a team control the ball that way."


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