Lions hoping for stronger finish vs. Ravens
If Calvin Johnson and the Detroit Lions had been a bit more
productive in the fourth quarter recently, they might have a
playoff spot all but locked up.
Instead, Detroit is scrambling to stay atop the NFC North after
three losses in four games.
The Lions were outscored 49-20 in the fourth quarter over that
stretch, and last weekend, they allowed four touchdowns in the
final period in a snowy 34-20 loss at Philadelphia. Detroit is tied
with Chicago for first place in the division – but if the Lions
miss the postseason, they’ll certainly have a few games they can
look back on with regret.
”Every team has to adjust,” Johnson said. ”We’re a good
fourth-quarter team. We have been. We just have to get back to it.
Whatever it may be – third downs, executing in the red zone –
whatever it may be we just have to get back to it.”
The Lions have had their moments in the fourth quarter,
particularly in wins over Cleveland and Dallas earlier this season.
But they haven’t been at all consistent at finishing games strong.
Detroit allowed two touchdowns in the final quarter of a 37-27 loss
at Pittsburgh on Nov. 17, then let a fourth-period lead slip away
against Tampa Bay the following weekend.
The Lions did put away Green Bay in a 40-10 rout on
Thanksgiving, but last weekend’s meltdown against the Eagles
dropped Detroit (7-6) back into a more precarious position in the
playoff race. The Lions host Baltimore on Monday night.
”We just need to be complete,” offensive lineman Rob Sims
said. ”I don’t think it’s a point of emphasis. We’ve done that in
the past – said, `Hey we’ve got to start fast. Oh, hey, we’ve got
to finish strong. Hey, we’ve got to continue doing this.’ We’ve got
to be complete. That’s what we’ve got to be.”
Although there’s a perception that opponents have limited
Johnson’s influence in the fourth quarter, he does have 20 of his
75 receptions this season in the final period. And Matthew
Stafford’s fourth-quarter passer rating is 91.7 – better than his
overall mark of 88.2
”I feel like we’re pretty aggressive. We’re going for it all
the time,” Stafford said. ”You can’t go into every game with the
same mindset – as far as, `Hey, in the fourth quarter of this game,
if you’re up 10 or down 10 we’re still going to throw it this many
times.’ It’s just about flow of the game. You have to feel it and
If the Lions needed any extra motivation this week, Baltimore
safety Matt Elam might have provided some when he said Johnson is
”pretty old” – Johnson is 28.
Friday was Johnson’s day to talk to Detroit-area media, and he
didn’t seem too preoccupied with Elam’s comments.
”I don’t have time to make something out of every time somebody
says something, but sometimes you usually know when to keep your
mouth shut,” Johnson said. ”He’s a rookie, he’ll learn.”
When will Elam learn?
”Hopefully, this Monday,” Johnson said.
And did the Detroit star know who Elam was before this week?
”Nah, I didn’t,” he said.
Johnson did concede that he can use comments like Elam’s to pump
himself up before this next game.
”It’s motivation – but more so coming from somebody’s mouth
that I’m actually playing,” Johnson said. ”I’m playing them, but
I’ll see him, like I say, if I run past him down the field or
something like that. It’s not like he’s lined up on me every
So will the Lions throw deep in Elam’s direction?
”Yeah,” Johnson said with a chuckle. ”We’ve got to test him