It was another week of preseason football and another week of a top receiver recording over 100 yards against Baltimore’s secondary.
This time it was Calvin Johnson, who caught five passes for 111 yards and a touchdown in the first half of Detroit’s 27-12 victory over the Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on Friday night. Last week, Atlanta’s Julio Jones diced up Baltimore’s secondary for 109 yards and a touchdown.
Johnson’s touchdown came on a back shoulder fade against cornerback Jimmy Smith from 18 yards away. Smith was in position but didn’t find the ball until it was too late.
“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.”
Upshaw’s first game experience: Outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw, Baltimore’s first draft pick in 2012, saw his first NFL action with Baltimore on Friday night. Upshaw, who’s recovering from a sprained shoulder, admitted to starting slow, as Detroit chop blocked him a bit to slow his momentum.
“I definitely needed to get my legs into it, with the speed of the game,” Upshaw said. “I had a better second half.”
One of Upshaw’s rookie mistakes was lining up offsides on a third down that Detroit didn’t convert. The Lions used the penalty and scored a touchdown on that drive.
“It’s just being disciplined,” Upshaw said. “The ball is there. I'm just looking at the ball, and it cost seven points. I feel bad about it because we were third-and-short and I know they batted the ball down, but there was a penalty on me.”
Upshaw finished the game without recording a tackle.
High tempo for FGs: Baltimore’s new-look, up-tempo, no-huddle was much more consistent in the second week of the preseason. However, the Ravens had to settle for four field goals on each scoring drive.
“We had pretty good execution, but overall, we didn’t finish,” coach John Harbaugh said. “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."
Omar Brown's encore: If Brown, an undrafted rookie safety, thought life couldn’t get better after making two fumble recoveries and an interception against Atlanta, he was wrong. Against Detroit, Brown pounced on another forced fumble (from safety Christian Thompson) and recovered an onside kick. In two preseason games, Brown now has three fumble recoveries, an interception and an onside kick recovery.
“(Brown) is always around the ball,” Harbaugh said.
Speaking of special teams: Brown wouldn’t have recovered the fourth quarter onside kick if it wasn’t for a tip from rookie receiver Deonte Thompson. Thompson leapt high in the air as the ball bounced high and nudged the ball forward for Brown to scoop up.
Thompson also had a long kickoff return, but it was called back due to a penalty.
“I saw the crease, and I told Coach I was going to hit it with all I’ve got and I just took it and went from there,” he said.
Jackson's punt return: Rookie cornerback Asa Jackson also appeared to have a punt return go for a touchdown but a penalty brought it back.
“It’s the preseason and that stuff is going to happen,” Jackson said. “That’s why we play the preseason -- so we can correct those mistakes that count against us in the games that count. We’re going to get that stuff cleaned up.”
Flags everywhere: Both teams combined for 20 penalties on Friday night. Baltimore committed nine for 79 yards and Detroit had 11 for 98 yards.
Injury report: WR LaQuan Williams (sprained ankle), FB Vonta Leach (sprained ankle), LB Ricky Brown (hip contusion) and OLB Sergio Kindle (left shoulder stinger) sustained injuries against Detroit on Friday.
Harbaugh said none of the injuries are a concern. Kindle added that he’ll be OK.
“It just sucked it happened,” Kindle said. “It’s just a burner. Those things pass in little to no time. I’ll be all right.”