They beat the Lions: Don't get too excited

Baltimore took care of business against a bad team but came away with some positives to build on

December 14, 2009|By Mike Preston

After a game like Sunday's, all you can do is keep it in perspective.

Baltimore fans should not book any travel to Miami or make any hotel reservations. No one should think about hiring a baby sitter for the first week of February yet because there is still so much football left.

Take a few deep breaths and repeat: It was only the Lions. It was only the Lions. It was only the Lions.

Don't get me wrong. There were some good things to come out of Sunday's beat down of Detroit, but the best thing is that the Ravens spanked the Lions. If they had barely won, then, mentally, it almost would have been as bad as a loss.

The Ravens did exactly what teams with playoff aspirations should do to sorry teams like the Lions. They beat the tar out of them. They had 548 yards of total offense, 308 running. They held Detroit to five of 17 on third-down conversions and 126 passing yards.

That's what should have happened.

But here are some bonus points for the Ravens: Oniel Cousins, a second-year player, was impressive starting at right offensive tackle. Outside linebacker Antwan Barnes, out of coach John Harbaugh's doghouse, was the only Raven to get consistent pressure on quarterback Daunte Culpepper. The Ravens' secondary did a nice job bracketing star wide receiver Calvin Johnson, and the entire offensive line rebounded after a poor performance against the Green Bay Packers on Monday night.

And even though offensive coordinator Cam Cameron was slow to go with it, the Ravens pounded Detroit's defense with a relentless running game.

Schwartz 'way off the mark'
OK, enough with the praise. The Lions are terrible, and the gap is widening between average teams like the Ravens and poor teams like Detroit.

The NFL might have to adjust its thinking a little bit to get teams at the bottom more help. Detroit's roster comprises nomads from other teams, and the Lions might be the worst-tackling team in the league.

Their linebackers wouldn't take on lead blockers but ran around them instead. Cornerbacks and safeties took the long way around, too.

This was supposed to be homecoming for Detroit coach Jim Schwartz. Instead, he was obviously embarrassed.

"I thought that in preparation, [Saturday] in meetings and [Sunday] in pre-game, everyone was ready to play," Schwartz said. "I was way off the mark there."


Flacco or Fred Sanford?
Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco was walking into the training room after the game, and his right ankle was still taped.

Flacco is starting to look like former Ravens quarterback Steve McNair did after games. His back was crooked, and Flacco was having trouble putting pressure on the right ankle.

The only thing missing was the theme song from "Sanford and Son" because Flacco was walking a lot like Fred Sanford.

Fewer penalties
The Ravens were penalized only five times for 50 yards, none for pass interference. Maybe the cornerbacks have finally gotten the message about cutting down on the hand-fighting with receivers. Apparently, the coaching staff stressed it last week.

"It's really about playing technique in the backfield," Harbaugh said. "You have to adjust your technique to the way the game is called, whether it's roughing the passer or whether it's pass interference or holding, whatever it is. Chuck [Pagano, assistant coach] did a really nice job this week, and our guys did a really nice job getting that corrected."

Suggs returns
Ravens Pro Bowl linebacker-defensive end Terrell Suggs played after missing the previous two games with a knee injury.

Suggs was credited with four tackles but didn't have any sacks or pressures, and he limped off the field after the first two plays from the line of scrimmage.

"They [the Lions] went right for my knee," Suggs said. "I tweaked it a little, but it wasn't bad. I just had to make an adjustment in the brace.

"It was nice to be out there with the boys, to get out and play," Suggs said. "I thought I might get one [sack], but Culpepper made sure he wasn't going to take one. He just threw it away a couple of times, but he wasn't going to give up a sack."

The right attitude
The Ravens seemed to handle the win against the Lions the right way. There wasn't a lot of bragging, and they know a win against Detroit makes no difference if they lose against the Chicago Bears at home Sunday.

"Just worry about one game. Worry about one game at a time and just focus on ourselves," Ravens center Matt Birk said. "Focus on what we do, focus on playing good football, and things will take care of themselves."

Message received
It appears as though the Ravens took a page out of the Cheesehead playbook in Green Bay. When there was a controversial play, Packers officials got it up on the video scoreboard immediately so the coach could take a look and decide whether he wanted to challenge it or not. The Ravens got some replays up instantly Sunday. Somebody in the front office got the memo.

Spotting official issue
Not since the Ravens came to Baltimore to start the 1996 season have I seen officials lose the spot of a ball so many times. It's amazing that a group of officials can be so inept. And it has happened almost every game this season at M&T Bank Stadium.

I don't know who has lost more credibility this year: NFL officials or Tiger Woods.

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