Here is a drive-by-drive look at how the Ravens beat the by a score of 48-3 on Sunday.
- The Lions got the ball first and started the game by putting together a couple of good plays. The first was a 10-yard pass to Will Heller, good for a first down. Next Kevin Smith ran for 8 yards to bring up 2nd and short. As would be the case all day long, the Lions failed to move the chains despite having only a yard or two to go. This time around Daunte Culpepper had a pass dropped by Heller on second down, and Smith was stuffed for no gain on 3rd and 2. Nick Harris punted the ball from midfield into the end zone for a touchback.
- The defense's bad day was bad from the very start, as Cliff Avril jumped offside before the first offensive play for Baltimore could even happen. The Ravens followed that up with a 9-yard pass to Derrick Mason and a 52-yard run by Ray Rice. Rice had a big hole to run through, and thanks to terrible pursuit angles by the linebackers and defensive backs, he was able to sprint down the field for a big gain. Will James eventually pushed him out of bounds, which would turn out to be very important. A few plays later Baltimore had 3rd and 8 and Joe Flacco found Rice for a gain of 6. As Rice was going down, Larry Foote punched the ball out to force a fumble. Somehow it ended up getting deflected and eventually bounced out of the end zone for a touchback, giving the Lions the ball at their 20 and keeping Baltimore off the scoreboard for the time being.
- Detroit's offense showed some signs of life thanks initially to a roughing the passer penalty on third down. Culpepper went downfield for Calvin Johnson, but the pass was severely underthrown and intercepted. The refs bailed him out with what I personally thought was a weak call, but I didn't mind since the penalty kept the drive alive. The Lions started to move the ball on their own for a while after that, eventually driving all the way down to the Baltimore 26 thanks mainly to Kevin Smith and a 12-yard run by Aaron Brown. Detroit faced 3rd and 1, though, and just like the first drive of the game, Smith was stuffed for no gain. The Lions were unable to take advantage of the short-yardage situation and had to settle for a field goal attempt. I don't know what has been wrong with Jason Hanson lately, or maybe it was just the awful weather, but he pushed the kick from 46 yards out wide right, meaning the Lions' promising drive produced 0 points.
- After each team went three and out, Baltimore got the ball back and quickly moved down the field thanks to a 19-yard run by Ray Rice and a 20-yard run by Le'Ron McClain. There was an 8-yard pass to Derrick Mason in between, and the three plays put the Ravens on Detroit's 18. A holding penalty backed them up a bit and helped stall the drive, but Billy Cundiff made a 38-yard field goal to break the 0-0 tie.
- Following a 7-yard pass to Calvin Johnson, Kevin Smith ran for 19 yards to put the Lions at the 50 as the first quarter came to an end.
- Smith then ran for 3 yards twice, setting up 3rd and 4. Once again the Lions were in a good position on third down, and once again they did nothing with it. Culpepper actually fumbled the snap out of the shotgun and simply fell on it, resulting in a loss of 6 yards.
- The Ravens were in a 3rd and short situation of their own on the third play of their next drive, and unlike the Lions, they really made something happen. Joe Flacco connected with Derrick Mason on a slant, and it looked like Mason was going to be brought down immediately by Phillip Buchanon. The gain would have moved the chains, but it wasn't anything big. Instead of that happening, though, Marvin White came in and put a huge hit on Mason, who somehow managed to stay on his feet. The hit actually knocked Buchanon off of Mason, and White was on the ground after delivering the blow. That left Mason just standing there, and he quickly started running down the field for an eventual 62-yard touchdown. He didn't get a chance to celebrate the score because White's hit knocked the wind out of him, but that didn't prevent Mason from scoring a touchdown.
- The Lions' offense again put together a solid drive and actually got some points out of it. Detroit moved the ball through the air early on with an 18-yard pass to Calvin Johnson and a 16-yard pass to Dennis Northcutt on 3rd and 5. Culpepper later moved the chains with a 2-yard run on 3rd and 1 in what was really his best play of the day. He faked a QB sneak and ran to the outside in hopes of finding an open Calvin Johnson, but Baltimore's coverage was all over him. Culpepper was forced to take off and showed some agility to get around the edge and pick up the first down. Detroit moved the chains again a few plays later on third down, though this time the offense needed to pick up 15 yards. Culpepper found a wide-open Northcutt for a gain of 19 to move the ball inside the 10. The drive stalled after an incompletion and a couple short runs by Culpepper, but Jason Hanson made a 22-yard field goal to make this a 7-point game.
- The next sequence of events was the turning point of this game. Joe Flacco threw a pair of incompletions, and on 3rd and 10 he found Ray Rice for what appeared to be a gain of just less than 10 yards. The spot of the ball appeared to be short of the yellow line on TV, so it looked like the Lions' defense had forced a three and out. The refs brought the chains out for a measurement to confirm if he was short or not, but there was a problem of some sort. The chains were set up like usual, but they weren't pulled because they were tangled or messed up somehow, and an actual measurement was unable to take place. It looked like the spot would have been short of a first down, but the referees "eye-balled" it and said Baltimore had a first down. It seemed like an absolutely ridiculous way to make a ruling, but that's what happened and boy did the Lions pay for it. On the very next play Ray Rice ran through a hole, broke a couple tackles along the way, and was gone. He scored a 59-yard touchdown that put Baltimore on top 17-3 and completely deflated the Lions.
- Kevin Smith got the Lions' next drive started with a 4-yard run. Culpepper then scrambled on second down and got rid of the ball just before he went down, or so it was originally called. After a lengthy challenge that included three trips to the booth by the ref, Culpepper was ruled down for a loss of 9 yards, making it 3rd and long. Culpepper tried to go deep for Calvin Johnson and again underthrew him big time and was picked off. There was no roughing the passer penalty this time around, so the interception stood and Baltimore took over at midfield.
- Ray Rice moved Baltimore down to the 5 in just two plays. He ran for 15 yards on the opening play of the drive and then turned a short pass into a 30-yard gain. The Lions' defense did keep Baltimore out of the end zone by stuffing Rice on first and second down and forcing an incompletion on third down, but a field goal made it 20-3 with about a minute left until halftime.
- Aaron Brown screwed up the kick return by hesitating and ended up being tackled at the 4. The Lions decided to simply hand the ball off to Kevin Smith three times to run the clock out and go into the locker room down by 17.
- Baltimore opened the second half with the gameplan of running the ball and passing every once in a while. Ray Rice got the bulk of the work early on before Willis McGahee eventually took over. A 34-yard pass was the biggest play of the drive, as it set up a 3-yard touchdown run by Le'Ron McClain, who came in for Baltimore's goal line offense.
- The Lions quickly went three and out, and Baltimore again set up a touchdown run with a big pass. Todd Heap made a leaping grab over Phillip Buchanon for a gain of 31 yards, and McGahee took the ball into the end zone from 8 yards out for a touchdown on the next play.
- If you haven't already picked up on the pattern of the third quarter, the Lions again went three and out and Baltimore followed with a touchdown. This time Willis McGahee broke free from 19 yards out to score a touchdown that put Baltimore up 41-3. To say that the Lions were shell-shocked at this point is an understatement, because they didn't know what hit them.
- The Lions had 4th and 1 at their 38 to start the fourth quarter and Kevin Smith lost 7 yards on the play. A face mask bailed the offense out, however, and kept the drive alive. Smith then picked up 15 yards to take the ball into Baltimore territory, but the drive was all downhill after that, starting with Smith hurting his knee on the previous play and having to be carted off the field. Culpepper then picked up an intentional grounding penalty to set up 3rd and long, and an incompletion then made it 4th and long. The Lions decided to go for it, and Culpepper was picked off by Tom Zbikowski.
- Troy Smith came in at quarterback and had the Ravens on the move initially before the drive stalled in Lions territory. Baltimore punted and downed the ball at the 3.
- Detroit moved the ball out to the 23 before the drive came to an end. The Lions faced 4th and 1 and decided to go for it, and Daunte Culpepper did a terrible job on the QB sneak and picked up no gain whatsoever. Baltimore took over and Troy Smith ran for a 15-yard touchdown on a bootleg on the third play of the drive.
- The Lions got the ball back and again decided to go for it on 4th and 1. This time a pass in the direction of Dan Gronkowski was incomplete, giving Baltimore the ball at Detroit's 32. The Ravens did pick up a first down thanks to another pathetic tackling attempt by Detroit (about four Lions failed to bring down Le'Ron McClain on 4th and 1), but Troy Smith took a knee after that to run out the clock. Final score: Ravens 48, Lions 3.
This was by far the worst game of the Jim Schwartz era so far. The offense showed signs of life in the first half but couldn't do anything with promising drives except get one field goal. The defense also showed signs of life at times, such as when they forced a fumble and kept the Ravens out of the end zone early on, but Baltimore eventually tore them apart and turned this into a blowout. It was an all-around terrible effort complete with bad passes, serious injuries (even Don Muhlbach, the long snapper, was on a cart after sustaining an injury while making a tackle on a punt), terrible tackling, poor coverage, and mistakes on special teams. To put it nicely, this was a disgusting effort by the Lions.
Here's to hoping we see Matthew Stafford back in the lineup next week when the Lions return home to host the Arizona Cardinals. That will be just about the only thing that will make the game worth watching (or listening to, for those of us in the blackout zone), because Kurt Warner is going to have a field day. At least he is on one of my fantasy teams, so there will be a silver lining of some sort for me, but seriously, this is going to be ugly. The last time these two teams played, in 2007, Warner went 26/36 for 259 yards, 3 touchdowns, and only 1 interception. Arizona won 31-21, and this was before the Cardinals were actually a really good team. On top of that, the Lions were 6-2 going into that game. This loss was the start of the Lions' awful finish to the 2007 season and their eventual complete collapse in 2008.