The audible dong strikes back.
After years of getting incredible bounces from their goal posts, the Lions were finally on the losing end of that battle. Justin Tucker bounced a 66-yard field goal through the uprights to win the game for the Baltimore Ravens, leaving the Detroit Lions at 0-3.
Here are some takeaways from the Lions' loss to the Ravens.
D’Andre Swift is the engine of the offense
The Lions' offense was fairly quiet yardage-wise today, but the star was D’Andre Swift. Of their 285 yards, Swift accounted for 107 of them, including a touchdown—almost two if the Lions challenge his leaping play. Kalif Raymond stepped up to lead the team in receiving yards, but it was Swift that looked like the most explosive player. He looked incredibly elusive whenever he had the ball. He seems to have shaken the groin injury that hampered him in the preseason.
He’ll continue to split reps with Jamaal Williams, but that’s not a bad thing. Keep him fresh, and he’ll provide sparks like we saw in the second half.
The defense can dial up pressure
Despite missing Trey Flowers, the defensive line was humming. Lamar Jackson was sacked four times, and the pressure he was receiving all game long forced him into uncomfortable situations. Jackson did rip off a 31-yard run, but that was the lone big play from the Ravens' notorious rushing attack. Their running backs combined for 15 carries and 58 yards.
The Lions might have had more sacks than that if Jackson wasn’t such an elusive quarterback. Romeo Okwara was a bully, while Austin Bryant and Charles Harris notched a sack each, great plays for two guys needing to make an impact. Meanwhile, the oft-criticized Alex Anzalone added a sack of his own.
Having a competent pass rush is a necessity in today’s NFL, and the Lions might have a pretty good one if they keep up this play.
The safeties need to improve
On the other end of the spectrum is the secondary, and I think the safeties, in particular, are a problem going forward. Tight end Mark Andrews rumbled for 109 yards on just five catches. He was rarely covered throughout the game, and while you can credit him for finding gaps in coverage, it is also concerning how little of an impact the safeties have had. There was also had a miscommunication on the Devin Duvernay touchdown pass, which seems to be a recurring trend.
With Tracy Walker a pending free agent and Will Harris continuing to play at a sub-par level, you have to wonder if the safety group will get a total overhaul next offense. Dean Marlowe, the third safety, finally got significant snaps on defense against the Ravens. On my first watch, I can’t recall any significant positives or negatives from him, so perhaps he will see more looks as the season progresses. With C.J. Moore solely a special teamer, there isn’t a lot to be excited about for the future.
The Lions have a major PR problem
A player entering the Hall of Fame should be a moment of pride for a franchise. Calvin Johnson’s ceremony at halftime was instead an embarrassment.
With Johnson set to receive his Hall of Fame ring, it was instead overshadowed by the public reception from the fans. Johnson received loud fanfare, as expected, but the Ford family got a chorus of boos from Ford Field. That response from the crowd is a stunning dark spot on a usually exciting moment.
You can blame the fans, but the blame really falls on the Lions for their mistakes of years past. Sheila Ford Hamp has been dealt an extremely difficult hand, as the Lions cannot pay Johnson without hiring him or suffering repercussions from the league. Johnson has refused to work for the team, and it leaves the Lions at an impasse. It has reached a point where a resolution might never be found, and it will undoubtedly leave the Detroit faithful bitter for years to come.