BALTIMORE (AP) — In his first game as defensive coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens, Dean Pees watched Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan follow the opening kickoff with five straight completions for 71 yards and a touchdown.
Not exactly what Pees was looking for from a unit that has exuded excellence for well over a decade.
Sure, it was only a preseason game and middle linebacker Ray Lewis didn't play. But Pees would probably have been just as ticked off if it happened in a scrimmage on the practice field.
"We need to get off to a fast start. That's the thing that disappointed us," Pees said this week. "We got off to a slow start, and we don't want to let anybody ever drive the ball on us, let alone go down and score on the first possession. That's certainly not a way you want to start the game."
The revamped Ravens' defense will attempt to improve that shortcoming Friday night against the Detroit Lions (No. 11 tie in the AP Pro32), whose first-team offense sputtered last Friday in the preseason opener against the Cleveland Browns.
On its opening series, the Lions went three-and-out. Matthew Stafford threw an interception to end the second possession. After seven plays and a punt on the third series, Stafford and the rest of the first unit took a seat to try to figure out what went wrong.
Against the Ravens (No. 5), Detroit has a second chance to make things right.
"Hopefully, we play a lot better. We need to play a lot better," coach Jim Schwartz said. "We need to play with a little more sense of urgency."
Even if the final outcome doesn't mean a darn thing.
"When you face a force like the Ravens, it's exciting if you have an ounce of competitive nature," said Lions wide receiver Nate Burleson, who was held without a catch against Cleveland. "You have to say, this game doesn't count, but we're still trying to score and we're preparing for it as if it is a real game. The Ravens are going to try to bang us and try to force fumbles and interceptions. I think this preseason game will have a regular-season type atmosphere."
Much has changed for the Baltimore defense since the AFC championship game. The unit has a new leader in Pees, who takes over Chuck Pagano, now head coach of the Colts. The Ravens are also trying to fill holes created by an injury to standout linebacker Terrell Suggs and the departure of free agents Cory Redding and Jarret Johnson.