Welcome to our newest weekly series, “The history of.” Each week during the season I’ll look back at the history between the Detroit Lions and their opponents. We’ll find out what the world was like when the teams met for the first time, what the all-time record is between them, the worst memories, the best memories and, finally, we’ll do a dive into the best game played between the two. Let’s jump right into it with the Lions vs. the Baltimore Ravens.
When it all started
Let’s hop in the phone booth with Bill and Ted and go all the way back to December 27, 1998. The Ravens were two years old at the time and were still the most hated team in Cleveland. Since the Browns came back eventually, it’s easy to forget that just three years earlier in 1995, the Ravens were the Cleveland Browns.
The Lions traveled to Baltimore for the first time since December of 1977 when they played the Baltimore Colts. Speaking of Colts, the Lions starting quarterback in their first meeting with the Ravens was current Colts head coach Frank Reich. The Ravens quarterback was Michigan’s head coach Jim Harbaugh. When it was all said and done, the Ravens beat the Lions 19-10.
What the world was like that first time
The world was an odd place in December of 1998. The first meeting between the two teams came two days after Christmas. The hottest selling toy that Christmas was this thing.
These things would often come alive in the middle of the night and kill your entire family.
Patch Adams was the number one movie and I’m Your Angel by Celine Dion and R. Kelly was the number one song. We were making all kinds of bad decisions in 1998. The Bill Clinton impeachment had just started that week and four days later Big Mouth Billy Bass would hit the shelves for the first time. Imagine if that would have come out on Christmas.
The Ravens and Lions have barely played each other. Since 1998, the two teams have only met five times. The Lions have only won one of those games, their 2005 matchup. The Ravens have scored 40 or more points two of the last three times they’ve played, and this will be the first time the Ravens have come to Detroit since December of 2013. Anyone remember how that game ended? Well, I’m about to remind you.
The Lions’ amazing collapse during the 2013 season really hit its apex when the Lions welcomed the Ravens to town on “Monday Night Football.” In a competitive game, the Lions did everything they could, but they just couldn’t beat Justin Tucker. That’s right, I said Justin Tucker. The kicker scored all 18 of the Ravens points and knocked the Lions out of first place with a walk off 61-yard field goal—the longest kick of his career to date.
Honestly, there really isn’t one. Maybe the Furby?
Let’s take a look at the best game. Since the Lions have only beat the Ravens once, let’s look at that game. The Lions beat the Ravens 35-17 in October of 2005. The quarterback matchup was Joey Harrington vs. Anthony Wright. Harrington somehow only threw for 97 yards and a touchdown on 23 attempts. He also threw two interceptions, because, well, he’s Joey Harrington.
The big star of the game for the Lions was Kevin Jones. The second-year running back put up the dumbest stat line I’ve ever seen in this game. Jones ran for 58 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries. 26! That’s just 2.23 yards per carry. How did the Lions win this game?
It’s probably because the Ravens turned the ball over four times, and the Lions had freak plays like Shawn Bryson’s 77-yard touchdown on his only carry of the game or a wild recovery of a Joey Harrington fumble that put the Lions on the 2-yard line. Maybe it was because multiple Ravens players got themselves kicked out of the game. Here’s a highlight package of this crazy game for you all to enjoy.