Ravens Offense Explodes Just When the Defense Needed It


This week, safety Eric Weddle said that at some point this season, the Ravens offense would bail out the defense.

Well, that day arrived Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium.

The Ravens' stingy defense was on its heels and the No. 31-ranked offense came to the rescue in a 44-20 win over the Detroit Lions, pushing Baltimore's record to 7-5.

Quarterback Joe Flacco threw for a season-high 269 passing yards and tossed two touchdowns and no interceptions. Running back Alex Collins ran for two touchdowns and wide receiver Mike Wallace had five catches for 116 yards.

What looked like another potential Ravens rout after they led 20-0 at halftime, suddenly turned into a Lions comeback and offensive shootout. But each time the Lions roared back into the game, the Ravens offense counter-punched.

"Everybody looked at me crazy when I said that – maybe rightfully so, maybe not," Weddle said with a laugh. "I have belief in this team, our quarterback, what we're doing offensively, the weapons we have. Confidence is a big deal."

"They had our backs," outside linebacker Terrell Suggs added.

After the Ravens' Monday Night Football win over the Houston Texans, Flacco talked about the team's need to get more aggressive to take the next step on offense.

Six days later, it looked different. Flacco attempted 22 passes in the first half and threw for 192 yards. That was already more yards than he was averaging per game. Flacco's 36 passing attempts are the most he's had in a win this season.

"We all know what the other level is," Flacco said. "I think we've been winning football games because we've been purposefully playing a style of football – a physical brand of football. Sometimes we need to find a way to convert that into points on offense."

Flacco hit his longest pass of the season on a 66-yard bomb to Wallace in the second quarter, setting up the first of two goal-line passing touchdowns to give Baltimore a 20-0 halftime lead.

Baltimore had a pair of punts to start the second half, and the Lions and quarterback Matthew Stafford, who are no strangers to comebacks, turned it on after cornerback Jimmy Smith went down with a torn Achilles.

The Lions scored back-to-back touchdowns, drawing to within seven points near the end of the third quarter.

"We were reeling there for a little bit in the second half," Weddle said. "We didn't match their intensity at all, defensively, with a second-half team that's one of the best in the league coming out. So, kudos to our offense for not just standing up to the Lions, but extending our lead when we needed it."

Just when momentum was flipped and M&T Bank Stadium grew nervous, the offense turned it back on.

The Ravens strung together a nine-play, 74-yard drive at the end of the third quarter that went into the fourth, capped by a 7-yard run by Collins. That gave Baltimore a bit more breathing room.

The Lions marched right back down for a touchdown in five plays, pulling Detroit back into range. Baltimore again responded, going 23 yards to put Justin Tucker in range for a 51-yard field goal.

After cornerback Marlon Humphrey picked off Stafford, the Ravens offense stepped on the Lions' throat with Collins' second touchdown with four minutes left, giving Baltimore a 17-point lead and celebratory sideline.

"I'm very pleased with that, very pleased," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "The fact that the offense was able to answer when the defense got on the ropes a little bit, I think, is what made this a great team victory."

The Ravens had been waiting a long time for a game like this. Yet Flacco and other offensive players downplayed the relief that it could have brought.

"No, I'm not relieved," Flacco said. "We know how hard it is each week. We're doing the most we can. It's not just relief for a week. That's not relief anyway. We've just got to go out there and continue to play well."

Tight end Benjamin Watson also said he doesn't feel relief, and Wallace added that the Ravens left plays on the field. Baltimore's wideouts had some early drops and Flacco passed up a deep shot to wide receiver Jeremy Maclin.

Even though the Ravens aren't going to put too much stock into Sunday's outburst, it's definitely a confidence-booster.

"We have to do our part at some point, right? Our defense has been incredible. Our special teams has been incredible. The offense, not so much," Wallace said.

"We took a step in the right direction, but we still got a lot of potential. We have a lot of players, but we just have to max it out. … Today we made strides, and this game is about peaking at the right time, so hopefully we can do that."

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