DETROIT -- So that's what it feels like to have a kicker.
Justin Tucker made six field goals Monday night and drilled a 61-yard kick just over the crossbar with 38 seconds left as the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens beat the Detroit Lions in a must-win game at Ford Field, 18-16.
Tucker, one of the game's best kickers, accounted for all of Baltimore's scoring, and Matthew Stafford threw three interceptions in the loss for the Lions.
The Lions (7-7) have now lost four of their last five games to fall out of first place in an NFC North race that appeared to be theirs for the taking after the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers spent most of the last two months without their starting quarterbacks.
On Sunday, both the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers rallied from second-half deficits for wins.
Jay Cutler threw three touchdown passes in his return from an ankle injury and the Bears scored 21 fourth-quarter points to beat the Cleveland Browns, 38-31. In Dallas, the Packers, playing their sixth straight game without Aaron Rodgers, rallied from a 23-point halftime deficit to beat the Cowboys, 37-36.
The Bears (8-6) and Packers (7-6-1) close the regular season in Chicago, and if both teams win next week, the Lions will be on the brink of playoff elimination.
Monday night, the Lions turned in an all-too-familiar effort, turning the ball over three times and committed several costly penalties to squander an otherwise solid defensive effort.
Stafford threw three second-half interceptions, the first on a tipped pass that sailed behind Reggie Bush, the second on a sidearm heave to Kris Durham across the middle of the field, and the last on the Lions' final offensive play, when he overthrew Nate Burleson and hit rookie safety Matt Elam in the chest.
Elam made headlines this week when he called Calvin Johnson "old," and Johnson played that way in the first half, when he dropped two passes that would have gone for big gains.
Johnson finished with six catches for 98 yards, and Stafford was 18 of 34 passing for 235 yards and one touchdown.
Rookie tight end Joseph Fauria gave the Lions a short-lived 16-15 lead with 2:21 play when he caught his only pass of the game, a 14-yard touchdown over the back of linebacker Daryl Smith.
Jacoby Jones returned the ensuing kick to the 33-yard line, and Ravens quarterback hit Jones for a big 27-yard gain on third and 15 to move the ball near midfield.
The Lions forced a fourth and 7, and after initially leaving his offense on the field, Ravens coach John Harbaugh called a time-out so he could send Tucker on the field.
Tucker made field goals of 29, 24 and 32 yards in the second quarter, 49 yards just after halftime and 53 yards 8:06 left in the game, and his final kick -- a career-long 61-yarder -- sailed just over the upright and inside the right post.
Baltimore's first scoring drive covered 15 plays and 81 yards, with Torrey Smith delivering the big play when he beat Jonte Green for a 25-yard gain over the middle.
Green, relegated to mostly special-teams duty the first 13 games of the year as the Lions' fifth cornerback, was pressed into starting action Monday with Chris Houston sidelined by a toe injury and Darius Slay out for the second straight game after minor knee surgery.
Smith beat Green for a 22-yard gain to help set up Baltimore's second field goal, and the Ravens tacked three more points on just before halftime after Louis Delmas was called for a helmet-to-helmet hit near the goal line on an incomplete pass with 16 seconds to play.
That penalty gave the Ravens the ball at the 29-yard line, and after a short pass to Dennis Pitta, Tucker's 32-yarder gave Baltimore a 9-7 halftime lead.
Reggie Bush, who returned to action after missing last week's loss to the Philadelphia Eagles with a strained calf, opened the scoring for the Lions with a 14-yard touchdown run with 10:57 left in the first quarter.
Bush had a big start to the game -- he carried five times for 42 yards in the first quarter -- but disappeared in the second quarter and finished with 86 yards on 17 carries as the Ravens' run defense tightened.
Flacco completed 20 of 38 passes for 222 yards for the Ravens, who improved to 8-6 with their fourth straight win and can win the AFC North if they win their final two games.
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