How our reporters and editors saw the Ravens’ 44-20 win over the Detroit Lions Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium:
Jeff Zrebiec, reporter: Joe Flacco quieted the naysayers for one week. Flacco played his best game all season and the Ravens offense — yes the Ravens offense — took over the game in the fourth quarter. Jimmy Smith’s season-ending Achilles injury casts a downer on this one, but the Ravens offense was still the story. Credit Flacco for making smart throws. Credit Marty Mornhinweg for staying aggressive. The Ravens will have a chance if they play this way offensively.
Peter Schmuck, columnist: It all came together for the Ravens on Sunday. The offense came alive and the defense shut out Matthew Stafford and the Lions in the first half. Down 20-0 at intermission, Stafford got Detroit moving in the third quarter and made it a one-score game -- for a short time -- but Joe Flacco kept the Ravens in gear and the defense rose up in the fourth quarter to intercept a pair of passes and help put the Ravens' third straight victory on ice. Talk about finishing strong. They scored 24 points in the final quarter tied a club record. It was arguable their most complete game of the season and they looked very much like a legitimate playoff contender. Now, it's off to Pittsburgh to see if they are peaking at just the right moment.
Childs Walker, reporter: The Ravens had to win this week or next and to their credit, they responded with one of their best all-around games of the season against a dangerous team. Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford picked them apart for much of the game, but the Ravens again showed their uncanny ability to generate timely turnovers. On offense, Joe Flacco delivered one of his best passing performances of the season, and the line blocked well. Jimmy Smith’s Achilles injury is obviously a huge story. He’s been the team’s best player this season. But with Marlon Humphrey ready to step in, they’re better equipped to survive Smith’s absence than in past seasons.
Edward Lee, reporter: On a day when the defense did not play as well as it has for most of the season, it was comforting to see the offense pull its weight. The running game took some pressure off of Joe Flacco, who finally had time in the pocket to deliver on some deep throws. The question now is whether this team can continue to play that well in the House of Horrors that is Heinz Field.
Ron Fritz, sports editor: When the Ravens let the Lions get close, they dialed it back up on both sides of the ball. You have to give them credit for that because in the third quarter it looked like the Lions were going to take control. At one point quarterback Matthew Stafford had completed 20 straight passes. But Joe Flacco looked as good as he has all season and the Ravens ran the ball effectively. The defense ended up with two interceptions and knocked Stafford out of the game. A three-game winning streak is a great way to head into Pittsburgh.