Ravens stumped in preseason loss against the Lions

Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco is sacked by defensive back John Wendling in the first half.
Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco is sacked by defensive back John Wendling in the first half. (DOUG KAPUSTIN, MCT)

The Ravens' offensive focus following last week's preseason opener was on sustaining drives. They'll spend this week talking about finishing them.

The first-team defense has a host of topics to discuss from generating a pass rush to providing tighter coverage to tackling better.

It was an uneven and sloppy performance for the Ravens who were beaten 27-12 by the Detroit Lions in their second preseason game front of an announced 70,567 on Friday at M&T Bank Stadium.

The Lions led most of the game with the Ravens' best chance to get back in the game – an electrifying 85-yard punt return touchdown by rookie Asa Jackson – getting called back because of a Nigel Carr holding penalty. It was one of nine penalties for the Ravens for a total of 73 yards.

"I feel good about the way we played in the first half," said Ravens coach John Harbaugh whose team is now 1-1 in the preseason. "We had pretty good execution, but overall, we didn't finish. We have to convert on third downs on both sides of the ball — catch the ball, knock it down on defense. Like I said, we basically have to finish plays."

The Joe Flacco-led offense put up points on two of its three possessions, but they were unable to get in the end zone while the Lions' Matthew Stafford directed two consecutive second-quarter touchdown drives.

A week after allowing the Atlanta Falcons' Matt Ryan to throw for 155 yards and a touchdown and Julio Jones to catch six balls for 109 yards and a touchdown in one quarter of work, the Ravens' first-team defense had few answers for Stafford and Pro Bowl receiver Calvin Johnson.

With the Lions trailing 6-0 early in the second quarter, Johnson beat Cary Williams for a 57-yard catch. Four plays later, the two again connected with Johnson making an acrobatic catch over cornerback Jimmy Smith for an 18-yard touchdown. There was little the 6-foot-2 Smith could do to deny the 6-foot-5 Johnson.

However, there was plenty of blame to go around on the Lions' next score as second-year wide receiver Titus Young got free from Williams and then spun off a Emanuel Cooktackle for a 24-yard touchdown.

"We have to complete plays, not just be in position to make them," said Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees. "And we can't commit penalties. On both of their touchdowns in the first half, we helped them with penalties, and they made a couple of big plays."

The score, which put the Lions up 14-6, ended Stafford's night. Before giving way to Shaun Hill (Maryland), Stafford went 12-for-17 for 184 yards, two touchdowns and a 145.2 passer rating. Ryan posted a 103 rating last week.

Protected better by the offensive line, Flacco finished 7-for-12 for 79 yards and a 78.1 quarterback rating before leaving the game when the Ravens got the ball with 12:20 of the second quarter.

Unlike last week against the Falcons when the Ravens didn't get a first down until their fourth drive, Flacco moved the ball in each of the three drives while he was in the game.

"If we're going to be the offense that we want to be, where we put up 30 something points every week, we have to score touchdowns," Flacco said. "You might settle for a field goal here and there but you don't want to get in the business of not converting and kicking."

However, the Ravens had two of the drives end with field goals — Billy Cundiff converted a 33-yarder and rookie free agent Justin Tucker hit from 50 yards — and the other with a Sam Koch punt.

"It is important to move the ball, the chains, and get those first downs," said veteran Matt Birk, who did not play in the Ravens' 31-17 victory over the Falcons last week. "We obviously didn't go out there every drive and score, but it was important to get that first first down, get some rhythm and get some momentum."

The first-team offense's best chance at a touchdown came early in the first quarter when they had first-and-goal from the Ravens' 7, thanks to a 20-yard Flacco pass to Boldin, coupled by a personal foul on Nick Fairley, and a 12-yard completion to LaQuan Williams.

However, on first-and-goal from the 7 , Williams was separated from a potential touchdown . Another incompletion to Williams followed by a 2-yard completion to Ray Rice led to Cundiff's field goal.

"We felt pretty good out there today. I think we had a good tempo going," said Flacco who is now 16-of-24 for 167 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions in two preseason games. "We were able to put it up on them a little bit, but we definitely have to capitalize when we get in the red zone – not make a couple mistakes, come down with a couple things. Other than that, it was a pretty good night. We just need to clean up a few things and get in the end zone."