Harbaugh: We could have used a TD
FINAL SCORE: Ravens 18, Lions 16
DETROIT – Justin Tucker was the hero for the Ravens, kicking six field goals, including a 61-yarder with 38 seconds left to give the Ravens the win. Tucker has now made the 33 straight field goals, and no field goal kicker in the NFL has been more important to his teams. The Ravens (8-6) remained in control of their playoff destiny, and can capture the AFC North by winning their final two games, at home against the Patriots, and on the road against the Bengals. It was a crushing loss for the Lions (7-7), who are in danger of a late-season collapse that could cost them a playoffs spot. Here are three akeaways from the Ravens’ fourth straight victory.
1. Tucker saved the Ravens in this game
They never scored a touchdown, and the Ravens had a strange call before his game-winning field goal, handing the ball to Ray Rice on third and long. Rice only picked up three yards, leaving the Ravens in a position where they either had to go for it on fourth-and-long, or try for Tucker’s kick. They went with Tucker. And as usual, he delivered, as his long kick got over the crossbar, leaving the Ravens in celebration, and the crowd at Ford Field stunned.
2. The Ravens’ defense was stellar most of the game, but still had trouble late in the fourth quarter.
The Lions scored on their first drive, and had an 80-yard drive late in the fourth quarter. In between, the Ravens’ defense was superb. They did an excellent job on Calvin Johnson (six catches, 98 yards) led by Jimmy Smith, who showcased his growth as a cornerback on Monday Night Football. But that 80-yard touchdown drive could have cost the Ravens the game, if not for Tucker’s late-game heroics.
3. Nothing comes easily for the Ravens
The Ravens are simply not good enough offensively to put good teams away. That leaves them grinding out victories in close games, and that is unlikely to change against the Patriots and Bengals. Fortunately for the Ravens, they still have plenty to play for, and they have Tucker. They also seem to have good fortune on their side in December, which is not a bad thing.