DETROIT -- It seems improbable, but the Ravens are more than willing to let Justin Tucker kick them all the way to the playoffs.
Tucker's sixth field goal of the night, this one from 61 yards, pushed the Ravens to their biggest victory of the season, an 18-16 win in front of a raucous and shocked crowd of 64,742 at Ford Field.
The longest field goal in Ravens' franchise history, followed by Matt Elam's interception, secured the team's fourth straight victory and keeps them in control of their playoff future. At 8-6, the Ravens remained tied with the Miami Dolphins and moved to within one game of the Cincinnati Bengals for first place in the AFC North.
The Lions, who watched Matthew Stafford get picked for the third time, this one by Elam on their final possession, fell to 7-7.
Detroit had taken a 16-15 lead when Stafford hit tight end Joseph Fauria for a 14-yard touchdown catch with 2:21 to play. The Lions couldn't convert the two-point conversion, putting Tucker in position to win it.
Quarterback Joe Flacco moved the ball into Lions' territory with a 27-yard completion to Jacoby Jones on third-and-15. Later in the drive, it was fourth-and-7 and the Ravens appeared intent on going for it, rather than sending Tucker out for a 61-yard field goal.
However, after a timeout, coach John Harbaugh reconsidered, and Tucker just snuck it over the crossbar. His six field goals accounted for all of the Ravens' points and he now has made 33 straight field goals.
The Ravens took a 9-7 lead into halftime and they expanded it on Tucker's 49-yard field goal with eight minutes left in the third quarter.
But the Lions answered those three points on their next drive, thanks to Stafford's 37-yard completion to Calvin Johnson, which put Detroit into Ravens' territory. However, the Ravens defense held and appeared to catch a break when cornerback Lardarius Webb seemed to get away with holding Kris Durham in the back of the end zone.
David Akers' 40-yard field goal made it a 12-10 game. The Ravens were handed a big-time opportunity to put the Lions away when Stafford threw his second interception, this one to middle linebacker Daryl Smith.
The Ravens led by two and had the ball at the Lions' 34 with about nine minutes to play. However, they lost 1 yard over the next three plays and watched Flacco take a vicious shot on his left leg that went uncalled. Tucker's 53-yard field goal with 8:06 to play made it a 15-10 game.
However, the Lions got the ball at their own 20 with just over eight minutes to play and drove all the way to the end zone, where Stafford found Fauria who beat the Daryl Smith on the play. As it turned out, Detroit left too much time for Flacco and the Ravens' star second-year kicker.
At just about the same time that their team charter landed in snowy Detroit on Sunday afternoon, the Ravens learned that their margin of error to make the playoffs had significantly diminished. The Dolphins' upset victory over the New England Patriots meant that the Ravens had to win to maintain possession of the sixth and final playoff spot.
With the Dolphins finishing with a road game against the Buffalo Bills (5-9) and a home matchup against the New York Jets (6-8), the Ravens knew coming into the night that they may have to win out to make it to the playoffs for a sixth straight year.
The Ravens talked about getting off to a good start, which has eluded them in several of their road losses, and taking the crowd out of that game. But a little over four minutes into the game, they already found themselves down by a touchdown.
With the help of Elam, Detroit marched right down the field on just eight plays, scoring when Reggie Bush broke free outside, after rush linebacker Terrell Suggs failed to set the edge, and sprinted into the end zone from 14 yards out. It marked the third consecutive week in which the Ravens allowed a rushing touchdown after surrendering only one over their first 11 games.
But the Ravens had the Lions stopped earlier in the drive before Elam, who drew unwanted attention to himself during the week by referring to Lions' 28-year-old standout receiver Calvin Johnson as old, was called for an unnecessary roughness penalty in hitting Stafford during the quarterback's slide. Stafford would have been a couple of yards short of the first down, but the 15-yard penalty put the ball on the Ravens' 31.
On the next play, Stafford hit Nate Burleson for 17 yards as a missed tackle by Elam prevented it from being a short gain. Bush then scored on the next play.
When the Lions forced a three-and-out and then drove into Ravens' territory on their next drive, the visitors appeared to be in trouble. However, Johnson dropped a pass that would have resulted in a long gain on third down, forcing a punt. That became a trend for the rest of the first half for the Lions' offense.
Meanwhile, the Ravens had little trouble driving the ball on Detroit, but they couldn't finish in the red zone. Trailing, 7-0, the Ravens engineered a 15-play drive that covered 89 yards and took about nearly 61/2 minutes.
They had first down on the Lions' 13, but a miscommunication between Flacco and Torrey Smith resulted in an incompletion on first down, Bernard Pierce was stopped for 2 yards on second down and then Flacco threw an incompletion on third down after left tackle Eugene Monroe missed a blocking assignment.
Tucker's 28-yard field goal made it a 7-3 game. Two possessions later, the Ravens again drove deep into Lions' territory, relying largely on the help of two Detroit penalties. A 15-yard facemask penalty on Jonte Green and a questionable pass interference call on safety Don Carey set up a first-and-goal situation from the 10.
After a 4-yard run by Ray Rice on first down, Flacco threw back-to-back incompletions and Tucker kicked a 24-yard field goal that trimmed the Ravens' deficit to 7-6.
The Ravens then got the ball back with 1:20 before halftime and needed just two plays -- completions of 18 and 21 yards to Jacoby Jones -- to get into Detroit territory. An unnecessary roughness call on safety Louis Delmas put them in range for Tucker's 32-yard field goal as time expired before halftime. The Ravens led, 9-7, but they gave themselves little breathing room by settling for three red-zone field goals.
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