Lions 27, Ravens 12

Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson appeared in midseason form

against a Baltimore Ravens defense still in preseason mode.

Stafford threw two touchdown passes, and Johnson had five

catches for 111 yards to help the Lions cruise to a 27-12 victory

on Friday night.

Stafford went 12 for 17 for 184 yards in four possessions. He

failed to produce a score in three drives last week against

Cleveland, then came up empty in his first two series against

Baltimore before guiding touchdown drives of 93 and 70 yards.

”We got into a little bit of a rhythm,” Stafford said. ”When

we kind of figured out what they were doing, we went out and

executed.”

That 93-yard drive took only five plays, three of them

completions to Johnson for 83 yards. On the last one, Johnson made

an excellent catch over cornerback Jimmy Smith in the end zone on

an 18-yard score.

”We see that same coverage out there, our mouths start to

water, we get hungry,” Johnson said. ”They were blitzing a lot so

we left their corners, their DBs, on an island. That’s what we look

for.”

Covering Johnson is no easy task, as evidenced by his numbers

last year: 96 catches, 1,681 yards and 16 touchdowns.

”You’re talking about a person who should probably be running

track, but he chose football,” Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis said.

”He’s a mismatch for a lot of people. The bottom line is you’ve

just got to make him earn his check. Today, he earned his

money.”

Safety Bernard Pollard added, ”The biggest thing with Calvin

Johnson is he understands and knows where everybody is at, and he

has a quarterback who doesn’t care where anybody is at. He is a

talent on the field, and he has a special gift.”

Stafford also connected with Titus Young for a 24-yard score to

help Detroit (No. 11 tie in the AP Pro32) take a 17-9 halftime

lead.

Operating under first-year coordinator Dean Pees, Baltimore’s

defense gave up 254 yards in the first half and a whopping 507

overall. The Ravens (No. 5) are trying to rebound from an offseason

injury to linebacker Terrell Suggs and the loss of free agents Cory

Redding and Jarret Johnson.

”We have to complete plays, not just be in position to make

them,” Pees said at halftime. ”Communication still isn’t where we

want it to be. We need to get better, and we will.”

Baltimore’s points came on four field goals, two apiece by Billy

Cundiff and Justin Tucker.

The Ravens had two kick returns for touchdowns called back

because of penalties. Deonte Thompson had a second-quarter kickoff

return nullified, and Asa Jackson’s punt return in the third

quarter was wiped out.

Replacement officials called 20 penalties for 177 yards,

including 13 infractions for 123 yards before halftime.

Joe Flacco went 7 for 12 for 79 yards and led the Ravens to a

pair of field goals before leaving early in the second quarter. Ray

Rice played only two series, gaining 12 yards on five carries and

catching two passes for 11 yards.

”You’re not going to peak real early, it’s August,” Baltimore

coach John Harbaugh said. ”We’re growing in some areas. We’re not

doing everything we’re going to do.”

After getting to midfield on their first possession, the Ravens

then moved 60 yards before Cundiff kicked a 32-yard field goal for

a 3-0 lead. Flacco went 4 for 7 for 43 yards on the drive, which

was aided by a roughing-the-passer call on Nick Fairley.

On Baltimore’s third possession, Jacoby Jones ran 35 yards on a

reverse, and Detroit’s Justin Durant was called for a facemask

penalty to set up a 50-yard field goal by Tucker for a 6-0

lead.

Stafford put the Lions ahead with his touchdown pass to Johnson,

and in his final series the quarterback completed passes to four

receivers in a march that ended with Young diving into the end zone

on a third-and-4 play.

The Lions were without running backs Jahvid Best (concussion)

and Mikel Leshoure (hamstring). Kevin Smith started and ran for 11

yards on four carries, and reserve Stephfon Green went 76 yards for

a touchdown with 43 seconds left.

Backup Stefan Logan was carted off the field in the second

quarter with an ankle injury after colliding with Stafford on a

handoff. X-rays were negative.

Online: http://bigstory.ap.org/NFL-Pro32 and

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