Lions can’t stop Rice
By DAVID GINSBURG,
AP Sports Writer
BALTIMORE (AP) A cold, driving rain couldn’t prevent the Baltimore Ravens and Ray Rice from enjoying a record-setting day.
Rice ran for a career-high 166 yards and a touchdown, and the Ravens enhanced their playoff hopes Sunday with a 48-3 victory over the hapless Detroit Lions.
Baltimore (7-6) built a 20-3 halftime lead behind the play of Rice, who had 155 yards rushing on only nine carries and four catches for 53 yards. His 59-yard touchdown run made it 17-3, and the Ravens cruised to the finish in handing the Lions (2-11) their 19th straight road loss.
The win was particularly satisfying because it came only six days after a lopsided defeat in Green Bay.
“I thought all three phases really stepped up: offense, defense, special teams,” coach John Harbaugh said. “Maybe the first time all year we put it together in that kind of a fashion. That is encouraging.”
Baltimore set team records in total yardage (548) and rushing touchdowns (5). The 48 points tied the franchise mark, set in 2005 against Green Bay.
Rice reached a personal high with 219 total yards and topped the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the first time in his career. He has 1,041 yards on the ground and a team-high 68 catches for 652 yards.
“Getting 1,000 yards is very special in this league. It doesn’t come often,” Rice said. “It will be something I’ll cherish for life – second year and rushing for 1,000 yards.”
Rice was pulled early in second half, and his backups continued the assault. Le’Ron McClain scored from the 3 and Willis McGahee added touchdown runs of 6 and 19 yards to make it 41-3 entering the fourth quarter.
Backup quarterback Troy Smith ran in from the 15 with 5:02 left to cap the rout.
It added up to a brutal homecoming for Detroit rookie coach Jim Schwartz, a Baltimore native, who started his post-game interview session by saying, “There’s not anybody going live with this, are there? You might want to have a delay if you’re going live.”
Schwartz didn’t use any profanity, but was obviously frustrated by his team’s play.
“It’s not us. It’s not going to be us. There’s going to be some accountability for this,” he said. “I thought the team was ready to play. Obviously, I was way off the mark right there.”
The main problem was stopping Rice.
“I was concerned with tackling No. 27 and, obviously, we didn’t do a really good job of that,” Schwartz said.
Detroit linebacker Larry Foote said, “We didn’t tackle well. Mentally, I think we just broke down.”
Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, who was ineffective in the loss to Green Bay, went 13 for 20 for 230 yards and a touchdown before leaving in the fourth quarter.
“Joe bounced back. I thought it was gutsy,” Harbaugh said.
Baltimore needed a win to stay in the wild-card hunt. The top two teams in the race, Denver and Jacksonville, both lost Sunday.
The Lions lost running back Kevin Smith to a serious knee injury in the fourth quarter. Smith’s left knee seemed to give out as he was running downfield after catching a pass from Daunte Culpepper.
Culpepper, starting in place of injured rookie Matthew Stafford, was 16 for 34 for 135 yards and two interceptions. Kevin Smith finished with 69 yards on 21 carries.
“They made it a tough game,” Culpepper said. “My hat’s off to their defense. They didn’t make any mistakes.”
The Ravens missed a chance to make a statement on their opening possession. Rice ran 52 yards to the Detroit 14, then lost a fumble on third down.
“It actually just bounced right out. It was a wet ball,” Rice said.
Three plays later, Dawan Landry had an interception wiped out by a roughing-the-passer penalty on Trevor Pryce. But the Lions wasted the second chance when Jason Hanson missed a 45-yard field goal try.
Baltimore went up 3-0 when Billy Cundiff kicked a 38-yard field goal after a 19-yard run by Rice and a 20-yarder by McClain.
It became 10-0 when Derrick Mason caught a short pass over the middle, was sandwiched by Phillip Buchanon and Marvin White, then emerged to run for a 62-yard touchdown.
Detroit’s best drive of the day – 15 plays, 69 yards – ended with a field goal. Then, after a third-and-10 pass to Rice went for exactly 10 yards, Rice sprinted up the middle for a 59-yard TD and a 17-3 lead.
Notes: Detroit’s 19-game road skid is tied for fourth-longest in NFL history. The record of 24 is held by the Lions, from 2001-03. … It was the sixth time the Ravens scored at least 40.
Updated December 13, 2009