After facing a run of rookies and backup quarterbacks during the past couple of months, Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees is bracing for one of the league's top quarterbacks when Matthew Stafford leads the Detroit Lions into M&T Bank Stadium Dec. 3.
Stafford, a nine-year veteran, ranks ninth in passer rating (97.3), fifth in passing yards (3,010) and fourth in passing touchdowns (21). The Lions also rank second in the league in passing plays of 40 yards or more (10).
"He can make every throw, every throw," Pees said at his weekly news conference Nov. 30. "There's some guys that just throw hard and can't put a touch on it, some guys who can put touch on it and can't throw hard. He can do 'em all. He really, to me, is a complete quarterback physically."
It presents an intriguing matchup -- Stafford and a receiving corps led by Marvin Jones Jr. (44 catches, 731 yards, eight touchdowns) and Golden Tate (63-698-3) against a Ravens cornerback group that has been the strength of the defense this season.
Overall, the Lions rank 10th in the league in passing, averaging 255.6 yards a game, while the Ravens' pass defense ranks second, allowing 189.9 yards a game. Stafford has thrown 21 touchdowns and six interceptions, while the Ravens lead the league with 18 interceptions.
However, the Lions' passing attack extends beyond Jones and Tate; five different players have catches of more than 40 yards.
"They really spread the ball around," Pees said. "Each receiver has his own kind of special quality, and they're not the same. That makes it difficult. There are some guys that can really take the top off the defense, a guy like Tate ... is probably more dangerous after he's got the ball in his hands than he is running a route. Not that he's not a good route runner, but the guy is an exceptional run-after-catch guy. They all have great qualities."
TUCKER HONORED FOR FRANCHISE RECORD FOURTH TIME: Ravens kicker Justin Tucker has been named the AFC Special Teams Player of the Month for November. It is the fourth such award for Tucker, which moves him past Ed Reed and Matt Stover for the most such awards in team history. Tucker was 8-for-8 on field-goal attempts in November, including kicks of 53, 31 and 49 yards during the Ravens' 23-16 win against the Houston Texans on "Monday Night Football." For the season, Tucker is 23-for-26 on field goals, with misses from 58 and 62 yards, and he had a 46-yarder blocked. He also is perfect on all 21 of his point after kicks this year, extending his career mark to 231-for-231.
"Justin had a great month," special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg said. "I was wondering what happened to September and October." Rosburg joked that after punter Sam Koch was named Special Teams Player of the Week, and Tucker earned the monthly honor, "if the trend continues, then [long snapper] Morgan Cox should be Player of the Year."
COLLINS RETURNS TO PRACTICE: Running back Alex Collins was back at practice Nov. 30 after missing the workout the day before with a calf injury. That was the first practice Collins has missed since joining the Ravens Sept. 5. Collins leads the Ravens with 129 carries for 630 yards and has scored two touchdowns.