Kevin Jones scored two first-quarter touchdowns and Detroit went on to beat Baltimore 35-17 Sunday, helped in part by the Ravens’ 21 penalties—one short of the NFL record—and two ejections.
“It was outrageous—and it cost them,” said Dre’ Bly, who had two interceptions and recovered a fumble.
The Lions (2-2) lost their previous game at Tampa Bay when a TD catch by Lions tight end Marcus Pollard was reversed by replay with 13 seconds left, but Jones said the officiating this week didn’t make up for that heartbreaking setback.
“They were calling the penalties that were there,” Jones said.
The Ravens didn’t see it that way.
“I think the refs just let their feelings get into it a lot,” Ravens receiver Derrick Mason said. “They crossed the line.”
With Detroit’s win and Chicago’s loss, the Lions are alone atop the NFC North.
“We can’t get too excited,” Bly said.
The Lions never trailed, but turned the game into a rout by outscoring the Ravens 21-7 in the second half.
Detroit’s first TD in the third quarter capped an 18-play drive that took 9:38 and included six plays from Baltimore’s 1.
Just when the Ravens thought they made a pivotal, goal-line stand on a third-and-goal from the 1, Detroit got a new set of downs because defensive tackle Maake Kemoeatu was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct for making an obscene gesture to the crowd, referee Mike Carey said.
Three plays later, Artose Pinner had a 1-yard TD run—on a delayed call. The play was reviewed, but the pile of players made it impossible to determine if Pinner scored.
“I still don’t think he scored,” Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis said. “God himself was going to have to come down and tell me he got in the end zone, no one else.”
The Ravens had legitimate reasons to gripe throughout the game, but lost their composure.
“Passion, emotion and intensity are good, but they’ve always got to be under control,” Baltimore coach Brian Billick said.
The Ravens were a call away from tying the NFL record for penalties shared by three teams, most recently San Francisco in 1998.
Suggs was ejected by Carey after he was flagged for roughing the passer and argued the call. Suggs’ facemask might have made contact with the bill of Carey’s cap, but it wasn’t clear from television replays.
“He bumped me with malice in his heart and he was gone,” Carey said.
After Pinner’s TD and the ensuing extra point, Ward was ejected for making contact with an official. The contact seemed to be incidental as Ward was trying to separate teammate Ed Reed from Detroit’s Casey FitzSimmons after Reed pointed a finger in FitzSimmons’ face, apparently upset about a cut block.
“I know I didn’t make contact,” Ward said.
Detroit’s Joey Harrington was 10-of-23 for just 97 yards with a TD and two interceptions. Jones had 26 carries for 58 yards and two scores while Shawn Bryson’s only carry was a 77-yard TD run midway through the fourth quarter that gave the Lions a 35-17 lead.
The Lions lost receiver Roy Williams to a left quadriceps injury, leaving them with just three receivers because Charles Rogers is suspended for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy.
The offensively challenged Ravens got off to a rough start.
Bly made a play—as promised earlier in the week—when Baltimore tried to get Mason involved. Wright’s first throw missed Mason by a few yards and Bly intercepted it at Baltimore’s 37, setting up Jones’ 14-yard TD that gave Detroit a 7-0 lead.
The Lions appeared to catch their first of many breaks—on a review—later in the first quarter.
Officials ruled Harrington fumbled—when it clearly looked like he was passing—and a review upheld the call, allowing Jones to pick up the ball and advance it 27 yards to the Ravens 2.
“The ball was loose in the quarterback’s hands before his hand came forward,” Carey explained.
Detroit kick returner Eddie Drummond, hurt on the opening kickoff, said he will be out a week with a hyperextended left knee. … Mason (shoulder stinger) and FB Ovie Mughelli (left thumb) were also injured.