Despite Loss, Lions Pleased With Outcome

If you were to judge first half outcomes as victories, the Detroit Lions won their first road game in a while on Saturday. In spite of Saturday's 17-6 loss to Baltimore, the team was able to leave the contest with several positives.

Entering Saturday night's pre-season matchup with the defensive-minded Baltimore Ravens, Lions' head coach Steve Mariucci knew his offense would receive perhaps its most formidable defensive challenge yet. And Joey Harrington, Charles Rogers, and even rookie's Kevin Jones and Roy Williams didn't blink.

Despite a 17-6 final score, the first half belonged to the Lions.

"When we left the locker room (before kick-off) I said let's fight this team for a half. They're a playoff team," Mariucci said. "Let's slug it out with them and find out how we stack up against this team. We came out of it 6-3 at halftime, scored on our opening drive for the third time in a row, held them to 28 yards rushing, punted the ball well."
The first two quarters witnessed much of a defensive struggle, the Lions got the better of the NFL's 2003 third-ranked defense, and limited last-year's league leading rusher Jamal Lewis to just four yards on four carries.

Offensively, the Lions displayed no signs of intimidation from Ravens' Pro Bowl linebacker Ray Lewis, or Baltimore's somewhat shorthanded defense.

On the first drive, Lions' quarterback Joey Harrington connected on a 27-yard pass play to Rogers, and later found Williams on a 12-yard gain, in which the Lions' rookie receiver danced past Lewis and dragged defenders for an extra three yards.

During the drive, Jones and Lewis exchanged barbs. On one particular play, the rookie running back was stood up by Lewis, but would exact his revenge later in the first half.

The Lions ended the drive with a Jason Hanson 43-yard field goal.

The Ravens answered with a Matt Stover field goal on their second drive of the game.

In the second quarter, Kevin Jones stole the show, and Harrinton continued to be effective.

On an 11-play, 63-yard drive, Jones had three consecutive runs of 6, 15, and 7 yards to push the offense past midfield. Harrington connected again with Williams for 16-yards, before the offense again settled for a field goal.

Both team's exchanged punts for the remainder of the half.

Harrington finished 11-for-20 for 98 yards and no interceptions, while Jones finished with seven carries, garnering 36 yards. Williams, meanwhile, finished with 3 catches for 40 yards.

"I think it was a great test for us," Harrington said following the game. "Ed Reed, Gary Baxter, Ray Lewis - that's a pretty good defense in itself. To go out and beat them the first half, I think that gives us a definite shot of confidence."

The Lions defense drew concern following last week's loss to the Cleveland Browns, in which the team surrendered a 10-yard per carry average to Browns' running back Lee Suggs. The Lions didn't necessarily change their defensive strategy, and better tackling was apparent.

In the second half, Ravens' reserve running back Chester Taylor ripped off touchdown runs of 84 and 10 yards to establish Baltimore's second half scoring.

The Lions (1-2) will host the Buffalo Bills next week Thursday at 6:30 P.M. to conclude their pre-season.

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