GAMEDAY: Baltimore at Detroit

Complete in-depth preview prior to Sunday's matchup between Lions and Ravens.

Baltimore Ravens (1-2) at Detroit Lions (1-2)
KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET
GAMEDATE: 10/09/05
SURFACE: FieldTurf
TV: CBS, Gus Johnson, Brent Jones
SERIES: Second meeting. The Ravens won the only previous meeting, a 19-10 victory over the Lions in 1998. The Ravens limited Barry Sanders to 41 yards rushing in the running back's final game. Defensive tackle Lional Dalton forced Sanders to fumble at the Detroit 1-yard line, which led to a Priest Holmes touchdown and a 9-0 lead. This marks the Ravens' first regular-season game in Detroit.
2005 RANKINGS: Ravens: offense 26th (29th rush, 17th pass); defense 2nd (2nd rush, 11th pass). Lions: offense 29th (27th rush, 27th pass); defense 15th (14th rush, 14th pass)

PREDICTION: Lions 17-13

KEYS TO THE GAME: Both offenses like to pound the ball on the ground, in part because they call a conservative passing game behind two unproven quarterbacks. Look for the Ravens to stretch RB Jamal Lewis out wide more often to get away from massive Lions DTs Shaun Rogers and Dan Wilkinson. But like counterpart Joey Harrington, Ravens QB Anthony Wright will have to make a few plays down field to force the Lions to respect the pass. Wright is hampered by an inferior receiving corps, but does have TE Todd Heap. Lions WR Charles Rogers' four-game suspension means rookie Mike Williams or veteran Kevin Johnson must step up to provide a reliable complement to Roy Williams.

FAST FACTS: Ravens: Team's 30 points through three games is the lowest output under coach Brian Billick. ... Have won six of their past eight games against NFC teams. Lions: Are 7-3 when Harrington has a passer rating of at least 90.0. ... RB Kevin Jones has averaged 116.8 rushing yards in his past five home games.

-- TE Todd Heap is expected to play Sunday. "Think he has a little cold going on and it's working its way out," coach Brian Billick said.
-- Coach Brian Billick said he's surprised the Ravens have no interceptions this season, but added, "They'll come to you. You have to be careful about forcing the issue because you can leave yourself vulnerable by coming out of coverage."
-- Lions WR Kevin Johnson played for Baltimore last season, but Ravens coach Brian Billick doesn't think that gives his team an advantage in containing him Sunday. "No more than it is for Kevin Johnson to know us," Billick said. "Whatever advantage there is to be had is pretty much balanced out."
-- WR Derrick Mason has 21 receptions through three games, a pace for 112 for the season, which would obliterate Michael Jackson's team record of 76 set in 1996. His 213 receiving yards is 25 percent of the Ravens' entire offensive output. But he's not worried about defenses shifting their attention to stop him just yet. "I don't think they're shifting, not quite yet," he said. "They've still got to worry about Todd (Heap). They still have to worry about Mark (Clayton) and Clarence (Moore) and Randy (Hymes) when they're in the game."
--DE James Hall did not practice Wednesday or Thursday but Lions coach Steve Mariucci is not ruling him out for the game Sunday against Baltimore. Hall started in the game last Sunday at Tampa Bay but left early because his groin injury was bothering him, however, and Mariucci said he doesn't want a repeat of that scenario.
--LS Don Muhlbach, who has one of the fastest deliveries of the long snap in the NFL, will not play in the Lions game Sunday against Baltimore. Muhlbach has a knee injury and will sit out the game. Former Ravens long snapper Joe Maese will handle the long snapper duties in Muhlbach's place.
--LS Joe Maese will handle the long snaps on punts, extra points and field goal attempts with less than a full week of practice with the Lions. With Don Muhlbach down with a knee injury the Lions signed Maese on Tuesday, giving him four days to work with holder P Nick Harris and PK Jason Hanson.
--QB Jeff Garcia, who suffered a broken left fibula and badly sprained left ankle in the Lions' final preseason game Sept. 2 at Buffalo, threw in seven-on-seven drills Thursday for the first time since having his cast removed last week. Garcia, the backup to starting QB Joey Harrington, will not be available Sunday for the Baltimore game and might not be ready to play until the game at Cleveland on Oct. 23.
--CB Andre Goodman, who suffered a sprained ankle in the game last Sunday at Tampa Bay, returned to practice Thursday, giving the Lions encouragement that he might be ready to play against the Baltimore Ravens at Ford Field on Sunday.


The Ravens enter Sunday's game at Detroit riding a four-game road losing streak. At 1-2 with four of their next six games on the road, coach Brian Billick knows the upcoming stretch will go a long way in determining how successful Baltimore can be this season.

"Good teams are good on the road, bad teams are bad on the road," Billick said. "Bad teams are bad at home ... they're not good before the game, they're not good after the game.

"You have to win on the road in this league and it's a hard thing to do. So it has to be a priority for you, and it is a mindset about how you conduct your week, how you conduct your business when you get to the city you're going to. You're not going anywhere unless you can have a positive record on the road."

The Lions' roster isn't particularly daunting, but it will be a rare game indoors for the Ravens. Billick returns to Detroit for the first time since serving on Minnesota's staff for six seasons before taking over the Ravens. It will be his first visit to Ford Field ... which he expects to be at least slightly quieter than the old Silverdome.

"It's a new experience for me," Billick said. "The (Silverdome held) 80,000 ... that's a lot of noise. This new one is 65,000 or something, but it's still a dome. There's a comfort zone because of the difficulties that presents teams coming in, and we have to be cognizant of that."

Little phases middle linebacker Ray Lewis, but he's hoping being indoors might actually help the defense hear better. However, he recognizes every road game presents a difficult challenge.

"It can be different, but at the same time, it can help you," Lewis said. "Being in a dome, hopefully it won't be as loud for our defense. Hopefully, it is quieter so you can communicate and fly around and have some fun. For our offense (a dome) might be a little more challenging, because it is away. So, it can be kind of different playing up there."

The Lions' success in their final drive Sunday - moving from their own seven yard line to the Tampa Bay five before being stopped on downs in the 17-13 loss - has led to speculation coach Steve Mariucci might want to use a no-huddle offense occasionally.

Although the drive did not produce the desired results and it wasn't pure no-huddle, it represented quarterback Joey Harrington doing what he seems to do best and Mariucci says it's something he has thought about.

"We practice it and have it in our back pocket," he said. "Most of the last drive was huddle-up and changing personnel groups though; it wasn't on the ball.

"Yes, we have the capabilities of going no-huddle in the first quarter if need be and we've chosen not to do that, but we certainly may."

In the final drive, which lasted 5:14 before the Lions ran out of time and downs at Tampa Bay, they ran 17 plays and moved the ball 86 yards. Harrington completed seven of 14 passes and had two touchdown passes nullified because it was ruled the receivers did were on the out of bounds line.

Even on the practice field, Harrington typically does his best work in the two-minute portion of the day. He says he feels comfortable in a hurry-up situation, with or without the huddle.

"Of course, I'm comfortable there," Harrington said. "You've got to be comfortable there as a quarterback because sometimes the game comes down to it. I'm always comfortable in a no-huddle, two-minute type of drill."

With the Lions struggling to put to get their offense moving - both the running game and passing game have been sluggish - it might make sense for Mariucci to take a chance with the no-huddle.

It is not like Mariucci to take that kind of roll-of-the-dice approach, however, and it remains to be seen if he will try it against the defensively tough Baltimore Ravens on Sunday.

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