The Ravens didn't think they were fortunate to win Sunday, but thankful to have a great kicker who let them off the hook.
Marquise "Hollywood" Brown dropped three passes that could have been touchdowns. Tyus Bowser let an early opportunity for an interception slip through his hands, and Lamar Jackson threw a late interception that set up Detroit's go-ahead field goal.
But after Justin Tucker's miraculous 66-yard field goal, the Ravens escaped with a 19-17 victory, and Head Coach John Harbaugh knows the Ravens will work to clean up their mistakes despite the emotional win.
"We just have to get better," Harbaugh said. "It's our responsibility to improve. We've got to go to work Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Defense, offense, special teams, every area."
Brown dropped three passes in the first half during Baltimore's costly missed opportunities that opened the door for the Lions' second-half rally.
It was an unexpectedly difficult day for Brown, who had been one of the NFL's most productive receivers during the first two weeks. Brown's streak of eight straight games with at least one touchdown reception was snapped, and he did not catch a pass in the second half.
"People like me and Marquise, we're going to be talking to each other the whole day like, 'I effed up,'" Jackson said. "But we're not worried about that. That happened, that's over with. We won the game. We're going to Denver now."
All of Brown's drops cost the Ravens points and momentum. The first drop should have been a 25-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter, when Jackson threw a perfect pass to Brown who was streaking across the end zone. However, the ball slipped through Brown's hands and forced Baltimore to settle for a 39-yard field goal that opened the game's scoring.
Then with Baltimore leading 10-0 just before intermission, Brown had two more drops on Baltimore's final drive of the half that cost the Ravens an opportunity to take a 17-point lead. On first down from the Ravens' 25-yard line, Brown easily beat Lions cornerback Bobby Price and streaked down the right sideline. Jackson dropped another perfect dime to Brown, but he dropped the pass. Had Brown made the catch, it would have been a 76-yard touchdown play unless Price caught the speedy Brown from behind.
Four plays later, Brown got open again as Jackson rolled to his right on third-and-seven. The pass hit Brown squarely, but he didn't control it, forcing the Ravens to punt from Detroit's 44-yard line.
As he jogged to the sideline, Brown was met by Head Coach John Harbaugh, who appeared to offer Brown words of encouragement. But Brown had a quiet second half with no receptions, and he was the target on Jackson's fourth-quarter pass that was intercepted by Amani Oruwariye.
"I told him, 'You're writing the rest of this story, nobody else is," Harbaugh said after the game. "When you're looking back on your career and you've had the great career that you're going to have, this is going to be part of the story. So, let's go to work on that starting Wednesday."
Tight end Mark Andrews, who played with Brown at Oklahoma, has no doubt the talented wide receiver will bounce back.
"I told Marquise, just be yourself. Things like that happen," Andrews said. "He's a dog at the end of the day. He's going to be great. He's going to continue to make plays. This is not going to define him."
Brown wasn't the only Raven who squandered big-play opportunities. Baltimore almost forced a turnover on Detroit's second possession, when the Lions ran a trick play that didn't work. After taking a handoff, running back D'Andre Swift threw a pass back to quarterback Jared Goff but Tyus Bowser couldn't control a halfback pass. Had Bowser caught the ball cleanly, it would have been an interception that he may have been able to run in for a pick-six. But he muffed the catch, and after an official's review, the play was ruled an incomplete pass.
After shutting out Detroit in the first half, the Ravens defense also had issues in the second half, unable to stop the Lions as they continued to close the gap. Four Ravens defensive players missed the game after being added to the Reserve COVID-19 list on Friday – Justin Houston, Brandon Williams, Justin Madubuike and Jaylon Ferguson. But the Ravens proved their resiliency once again, somehow pulling out a victory thanks to Tucker's kick.
As Harbaugh likes to say, it wasn't pretty, it wasn't easy, but it was the Ravens. And correcting their mistakes at 2-1 will feel much better than being 1-2.
"We've had not the best luck losing guys lately," Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphrey said. "It feels good to be 2-1. We're just trying to stack wins."