Ravens at Lions
► Kickoff: 1 p.m. Sunday, Ford Field, Detroit
► TV/radio: CBS/97.1
► Records: Lions 0-2, Ravens 1-1
► Line: Ravens by 9
Detroit News contributor Steve Kornacki breaks down the Lions’ Week 3 matchup with the Baltimore Ravens:
LIONS’ CORNERBACKS VS. RAVENS QUARTERBACK LAMAR JACKSON
Injuries have significantly depleted the Lions at cornerback. Starter Jeff Okudah is out for the season with an Achilles injury. Ifeatu Melifonwu replaced him, but suffered a thigh injury in the Monday night loss to the Green Bay Packers that coach Dan Campbell said will keep him out for two weeks or more. Bobby Price, recently switched from safety to corner, steps into that corner spot. Amani Oruwariye ended up playing every snap against the Packers with the Lions thin where experienced backup corners are concerned.
Campbell said Price, the new starter whom he termed a “superb athlete,” received significantly better coverage grades than Oruwariye or rookie free-agent cornerback Jerry Jacobs. So, there’s a definite scramble at this position group, and the timing is not good with a premier play-making quarterback up next. Campbell stated: “Not the position you want to be in heading into a matchup with Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens.”
Price, a second-year player from Norfolk State, has Jacobs, rookie free agent AJ Parker, recently signed Corey Ballentine and Daryl Worley playing behind him. Price made three tackles against the Packers, and Oruwariye has one tackle this season. Neither has an interception on a team still in search of its first pick after two games.
Ravens to watch
► Lamar Jackson, QB: Jackson giveth, and Jackson taketh away. He threw a pick-six to put the Kansas City Chiefs on the scoreboard first in the last game, but ran for two fourth-quarter scores to pull out a 36-35 victory and did a flip in the air going into the end zone for the game-winner. All eyes are always on Jackson, who became the only quarterback in NFL history to throw for 3,000 yards and run for 1,000 yards in 2019, when he was the unanimous NFL MVP. He’s thrown for 474 yards (two touchdowns, two interceptions) and run for 193 yards after two games in 2021.
Baltimore coach John Harbaugh said this week: “I’ve never been around a more competitive player.”
► Odafe Oweh, OLB: The 2021 first-round pick from Penn State has wasted no time making an impact. No. 99 was the AFC Defensive Player of the Week after making three tackles, one tackle for lost yardage, and forcing and recovering the game-clinching fumble against the Chiefs. He stripped the ball from running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire and recovered it with less than two minutes remaining.
“He was all over the field,” Harbaugh said. “He was involved in coverage. He was involved in second-level rushes, first-level rushes (and) run defense. Then he comes up with that play. It was just a phenomenal football play.”
► Marquise “Hollywood” Brown, WR: Brown, from Hollywood, Florida, played Pop Warner football against Jackson (Pompano Beach, Florida), and now they hook up as a premier passing combo. The 2019 first-rounder from Oklahoma had 58 catches for 769 yards and eight touchdowns in 2020, and has 12 for 182 yards and two scores in two games this season. Announcer Gus Johnson pinned his hometown nickname on “Hollywood” during a Sooners game in 2017. Brown has the substance to go with the glitter, as he’s also an outstanding blocker as a 5-foot-9, 180-pound dynamo.
Facts and figures
► The Ravens have dominated their series with Detroit with a 4-1 advantage. The Lions’ only victory came in Detroit in 2005 (35-17). The Ravens won the last meeting, 44-20, at Baltimore in 2017. Only one of their games has been closer than nine points, and that was the Ravens’ 18-16 win in Detroit in 2013.
► The Lions and Ravens both have four sacks made, zero interceptions made, two interceptions thrown, and zero kickoff and punt returns after two games.
► Let’s look at how these teams do at crunch time, when play failure results in turning the ball over to opponents. Baltimore is 2-for-3 (67% success) on fourth-down plays, while Detroit is 2-for-7 (29%). The Ravens are 9-for-23 (39%) on third down, and the Lions are 8-for-24 (33%).
Detroit offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn, on going for it on nearly one fourth-down per quarter: “I love the fact that (Campbell is) aggressive. That just shows he has confidence in the offense to make those calls. I wish we could be 100% in that category right now, we’ve been stopped a couple of times, but I like being aggressive in that situation. I think touchdowns win.”
Steve Kornacki is a freelancer writer.