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Stafford and Johnson doing what they do best in preseason win at Baltimore

Posted Aug 17, 2012

Lions head coach Jim Schwartz said this week that he wanted his team to “play with a little more sense of urgency” against the Ravens Friday night.

In the second quarter, he got just that.

Quarterback Matthew Stafford had a perfect 158.3 rating in the quarter as he completed 8 of 10 passes for 150 yards and two touchdowns.

He finished his night completing 12 of 17 passes for 184 yards and those two touchdowns in an eventual 27-12 Lions victory.

"We got into a little bit of a rhythm," said Stafford after the game. "Preseason’s tough sometimes – you don’t game plan teams, obviously we don’t play the Ravens every year.

"It’s a little bit unfamiliar territory as far as their schemes and things that they do. When we kind of figured out what they were doing, Scott (Linehan) had a great game plan as far as calling plays and we went out there and executed at a fast pace.”

Surprise, surprise. Stafford’s favorite target on the night was receiver Calvin Johnson, who was in midseason form. Johnson and Stafford connected five times for 111 yards and the team’s first touchdown: an 18-yarder that Johnson reached right over Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith in the end zone to snag.

“Listen now. You’re talking about a person who probably should be running track, but he chose football,” Ravens All-Pro middle linebacker Ray Lewis said of Johnson.

“He is a mismatch problem for a lot of people. The bottom line is you’ve just got to play him and make him earn his check. Today, he earned his money.”Johnson signed a $132 million contract this offseason."

During the Lions’ first scoring drive, Johnson had three catches and 83 yards that included a 57-yard bomb down the left sideline.

“I was expecting it the whole way," said Johnson of the play that was called when the Lions were backed up on their own seven-yard line. "But once I saw the corner in press and the safety playing me towards the middle, there was a pretty high probability that I was going to come outside.”

Schwartz also had to be happy with his defense’s bend-but-don’t-break philosophy. The Ravens racked up 180 yards in the first half against the Lions’ first- and second-team defenses, but only got three field goals out it.

The first- and second-team defenses have yet to give up a touchdown in two preseason games.

The Lions also got their first looks at defensive end Cliff Avril and receivers Titus Young and Ryan Broyles against the Ravens.

Avril was active on defense and nearly came up with an interception after getting his hand on a Joe Flacco pass in the second quarter. He finished with two tackles and pass defended.

Young, who missed last week’s preseason opener against the Browns for the birth of his child, scored the Lions’ second touchdown of the night on a 24-yard pass from Stafford. Young caught a deep post at the 9-yard line, spun out of a tackle and dove into the end zone. The play was his only catch of the night.

"I didn’t really get a chance to get him the ball early in the game," said Stafford of Young. "Told him to keep his head in it and he did a great job.

"They kind of ran an odd defense there and kind of left him uncovered. He did a great job of turning and looking early – (I) was just trying to buy time because I knew he was going to be open. He turned to me and I didn’t really see the rest, but saw him diving in the endzone, figured it was a good thing."

Broyles, the second-round pick of the Lions in April’s NFL Draft, has been sidelined most of training camp with soreness in the left knee he had surgically repaired last November. In his NFL debut, the rookie has two catches for 24 yards.

Despite the victory, their first of this preseason (1-1), there’s still plenty the Lions need to correct before they head to Oakland next week.

The Lions reverted back to some bad habits from last year with a handful of silly penalties. Nick Fairley had bad roughing the passer penalty that kept a Ravens drive alive. The defense jumped offside a few times, too. In all, the Lions were penalized 10 times for 93 yards.

Jason Hanson kicked a 50-yard field goal that gave the Lions a 17-9 halftime lead. They added a 31-yard Derek Dimke field goal following a blocked punt by defensive end Willie Young, who was making plays for a second-straight game.