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The Baltimore Ravens (8-3) emerged victorious against the visiting San Francisco 49’ers (9-2) in a game dubbed as the ‘Harbaugh Bowl’. A huge defensive effort from the Ravens was enough to secure a 16-6 victory as they secure their position at the top of the AFC North.
Unsurprisingly, the Ravens looked keen to run the ball early on, as the home side were 6-0 on the season when running back Ray Rice has 18 or more carries in a game. This allowed the passing game to open up for Joe Flacco, and he found Anquan Boldin for a couple of good gains as Baltimore moved to within field goal range and took a three point lead in the game on the opening drive.
The 49’ers opening drive was not as successful, as the visiting team went three and out, extending the Ravens record of shutting out opposition teams on opening drives to 19 games. This was to the delight of the injured Ray Lewis, or ‘Mufasa’ as his teammates call him, who was doing a very good impression of a lion as he prowled up and down the sideline.
San Francisco kicked a field goal of their own to tie the game up, and were unlucky not to take the lead when Alex Smith found Ted Ginn for what would have been a 75-yard touchdown pass, only for the play to be called back for a penalty against the 49’er offense.
The home side then put themselves back into the lead with another field goal, but were disheartened to not have got a touchdown when they had managed to get into a first and goal situation. This extended San Francisco’s steak of not allowing a touchdown in the first half to five games, the highest in the NFL.
The first half was then brought to an end with the 49’ers moving down the field and looking to target a deep threat, only for Ravens cornerback Ladarius Webb to come up with a great interception in the end zone, and allowing Baltimore to maintain their lead into the second half.
The third quarter offered little of note apart from the 49’ers leveling the scores with their second field goal of the game. Towards the end of the quarter however, the Ravens put together a 76-yard drive which saw completed passes to seven different receivers, and culminated in an 8-yard touchdown pass to tight end Dennis Pitta at the beginning of the fourth quarter.
Defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano will have every reason to be pleased with himself and the Baltimore defense who had been excellent all game, but seemed to find an even higher gear in the fourth quarter, recording multiple sacks and tackles for a loss.
An addition to their momentous defensive effort, they added another field goal, extending their lead to 10 points and making it a two possession game, which ultimately proved too much for the 49’ers to overcome. Baltimore managed to record nine sacks in the game, which tied the franchise record, and included a haul of three for linebacker Terrell Suggs, who continues to show that he can become the leader of this defense when Lewis does eventually retire.
The loss, although disheartening, will not damage San Francisco’s playoff hopes, and should the Green Bay Packers slip up in the playoffs, then this matchup could very well meet again in Indiana at the Super Bowl.
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