By DAVID GINSBURG/AP Sports Writer
BALTIMORE (AP) – Joe Flacco threw for 269 yards and two touchdowns, and the Baltimore Ravens survived a strong comeback bid by Matthew Stafford and the Detroit Lions in a 44-20 victory Sunday.
After relying heavily on their opportunistic defense for much of the season, the Ravens (7-5) finally received an ample contribution from the league’s 31st-ranked offense.
Flacco helped Baltimore take a 20-0 halftime lead and directed three scoring drives in the fourth quarter to keep the Ravens in front.
Flacco completed 23 of 36 passes while guiding an offense that did not commit a turnover.
Stafford completed a team-record 20 straight passes in the second half, twice getting the Lions within a touchdown. But Detroit (6-6) lost a second straight following a three-game winning streak.
Stafford left late in the fourth quarter with a right hand injury. He went 24 for 29 for 292 yards.
The Ravens came in with three shutouts and an NFL-best 26 takeaways.
They forced three more turnovers, all of them pivotal: A strip-sack of Stafford by Eric Weddle led to a touchdown in the second quarter; a fourth-quarter interception set up a game-clinching TD run by Alex Collins with four minutes to go; and a 45-yard interception return for a touchdown by Weddle against Jake Rudock with 2:26 remaining.
Baltimore’s third straight victory came at a price. Standout cornerback Jimmy Smith left with an Achilles tendon injury and is likely lost for the season.
Smith went down without being touched in the second quarter, was helped off the field and ruled out after being examined in the locker room.
Smith has been bothered by a sore Achilles for much of the season. The seven-year veteran has missed several practices, but started all 12 games and is second on the team with three interceptions.
He was replaced by rookie Marlon Humphrey, Baltimore’s top draft choice. Humphrey intercepted Stafford in the fourth quarter.
PRATER PULLS IT
Detroit kicker Matt Prater missed a 43-yard field goal in the second quarter and was wide left on a conversion kick after Detroit’s second TD.
Lions: Former Ravens DT Rick Wagner (ankle) was carted off the field in the second quarter and did not return. … DE Ezekiel Ansah left with an ankle injury and returned. … G T.J. Lang was sidelined with a foot injury and returned. …. DE Cornelius Washington left in the third quarter with a shoulder injury.
Ravens: Smith has battled injuries throughout his career. Only twice has he played 16 games in a season. … LB C.J. Mosley underwent concussion protocol early in the second quarter and was quickly cleared.
Lions: At Tampa Bay on Sunday.
Ravens: Sunday night showdown against AFC North rival Pittsburgh Steelers, who beat Baltimore 26-9 in the first meeting.
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