Harrington, McMahon struggle as Ravens top Lions 12-6Posted: Friday August 09, 2002 11:46 PM
Updated: Saturday August 10, 2002 4:31 AM
BALTIMORE (AP) -- Joey Harrington learned something in his NFL debut: Playing against the Baltimore Ravens is nothing like competing against the likes of Stanford and Southern Cal.
Will Demps spoiled Harrington's first pro game by returning an interception 18 yards for a touchdown with 1:55 left, giving the Ravens a 12-6 victory over the Detroit Lions on Friday night.
Harrington, the third overall pick in the 2002 draft, went 12-of-21 for 117 yards. But he threw two interceptions, including the game-breaker, in which he took a seven-step drop instead of five before throwing late to tight end Matt Murphy.
If nothing else, Harrington got a lesson on life in the NFL.
"I learned how precise you have to be," he said. "In college, there's a little bit of leeway. Here I have to be on time, precise -- and I need to do it at the exact moment."
Both teams struggled on offense. The Lions allowed eight sacks and managed only two field goals by Jason Hanson, one of which was set up by a 51-yard interception return by free agent signee Brian Walker, who played last year with Miami.
"Offensively, that was the poorest. That's ridiculous," Lions coach Marty Mornhinweg said.
The Ravens did virtually nothing against Detroit's overhauled defense. Chris Redman went 10-of-20 for 93 yards with an interception in his starting debut, and backup Jeff Blake was 8-of-15 for 75 yards.
"Chris did some very good things. He was fairly efficient, but made some real bonehead errors," Ravens coach Brian Billick said.
With the score 6-6, Demps grabbed Harrington's errant pass and sprinted into the end zone for the game's lone touchdown.
"I made a rookie mistake," Harrington said. "I took extra little steps on that one. Instead of pulling up in five, I hit six and seven. Once I let go of it, I saw the guy breaking."
Demps, a free agent signee out of San Diego State, is vying to make the team as a reserve strong safety.
"I just jumped on it," he said. "I just picked it and I eyed him the whole way. I read his eyes and just took it to the house."
Mike McMahon, Detroit's projected starter in the regular season, was 8-of-20 for 65 yards and an interception. He was sacked four times and finished with a meager 28.1 quarterback rating.
"Both quarterbacks did some great things," Mornhinweg said, "and both of them did some things that were horrendous."
Until Demps' touchdown, the only score of the second half was a 47-yard field goal by Ravens' backup kicker J.R. Jenkins with 6:13 left in the third quarter.
Jenkins missed from the same distance with 12:24 to play and botched the conversion after Demps' score.
Redman, who spent the past two years as a third-stringer, played the entire first half.
"You have to start somewhere," he said. "I missed some things, but I felt comfortable and relaxed. I felt like we moved the ball OK, but the turnovers killed us once we crossed the 50."
On the Ravens' third possession, an overthrow by Redman was picked off near the goal line by Walker, who ran down the right sideline to the Baltimore 44.
Detroit then got its initial first down on McMahon's 22-yard pass to Mikhael Ricks, and Hanson opened the second quarter with a 42-yard field goal for a 3-0 lead.
Later in the quarter, Baltimore rookie Lamont Brightful provided a boost to the Ravens' listless attack with a 34-yard punt return to the Detroit 33, setting up a 44-yard field goal by Matt Stover.
As the half wound down, an interference call against Baltimore's Anthony Mitchell extended a Detroit drive that ended with a 52-yard field goal by Hanson.