BALTIMORE — Jimmy Smith knew he made a mistake right after Calvin Johnson caught his 18-yard touchdown over him.
He recognized where the ball was too late and allowed a score. Smith was in position to make a play but the veteran receiver got it done first. Johnson’s score was from 18-yards out and with 12:20 to go in the second quarter.
“In the red zone I need to be better on my technique and look back for the ball instead of playing through his hands,” Smith said. “If you don’t look back for the ball you’re never going to get it. It was poor technique by me.”
Detroit walked out of M&T Bank Stadium with a 27-12 win in both teams’ second game of the NFL preseason. Johnson finished with five catches, 111 yards and a touchdown. It was the second consecutive week Baltimore’s secondary allowed a big receiver to go over 100 yards.
Against Atlanta last Thursday, Julio Jones reeled in six passes for 109 yards and a touchdown. Even though the secondary, seemed as a strength heading into this season, gave up a lot of yards, cornerback Lardarius Webb isn’t concerned about where the Ravens are headed.
“We still have to put that work in, especially in the back end,” Webb said. “We say that we want to be the best but we have to come out and play like we’re the best. It all starts in practice. I guarantee you that when we go back to practice, we’re going to work like we’re playing four quarters. That’s where we want to be. We want to be on top.”
Baltimore opened the game out of its new-look no-huddle and converted four first down opportunities in two drives. However, the offense stalled and settled for a 33-yard field goal by Billy Cundiff despite getting down to the Detroit 7 yard line with 5:58 to go in the first quarter.
The Ravens added a second field goal when rookie Justin Tucker hit a 50-yarder to put Baltimore up 6-0. That’s when the Detroit offense took over. On the first play from scrimmage on the Lions’ ensuing possession, quarterback Matt Stafford hit Johnson deep down the left side of the field for a 57-yard gain over cornerback Cary Williams. Johnson used his size and speed to gain separation before Williams and safety Sean Considine brought him down.
Three plays later, on a third-and-2, Baltimore would’ve had Detroit stopped on an incomplete pass except that rookie outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw lined up offsides. Two plays later, Stafford found Johnson on that back shoulder fade from the 18.
“They were blitzing a lot,” Johnson said. When that happens, they leave their defensive backs on an island. When that happens, our eyes get wide and we can’t wait. Somebody will make a play.”
After forcing a three-and-out, Detroit marched down the field and scored another touchdown, this time on a 24-yard pass from Stafford to receiver Titus Young. Cundiff added a 44-yard field goal before Detroit kicker Jason Hanson knocked a 50-yarder in with 45 seconds to go in the first half, giving Detroit a 17-9 halftime lead.
Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco played until the 12:20 mark of the second quarter. He finished seven-of-12 for 79 yards.
“You go into these games and you kind of have a little bit you want to work on, and you won’t go out there and run everything,” Flacco said. You have such a small amount of plays to actually draw from and see how well you played. That’s why when you get down there you want to finish them off. I think if we were to play this game, and play all four quarters, it would have been a good one.”
Backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor finished eight-of-22 for 65 yards. He added 60 rushing yards on seven carries.
“I missed some guys but that’s how the game goes,” Taylor said. “You just have to keep playing through it, and just go back to the drawing board.