Doubters Fuel Ravens Win over 49ers

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy (13) is sacked by Baltimore Ravens’ Marlon Humphrey (44) in the first quarter of their NFL game against the Baltimore Ravens at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., on Monday, Dec. 25, 2023. Jane Tyska/Bay Area News Group

The Baltimore Ravens traveled all the way out west on Christmas night for a battle between the NFL’s two best teams. For some pundits its what they believed would be a Super Bowl preview as the Ravens battled the 49ers. Both teams entered Monday night with an 11-3 record atop their respective conferences, which on paper would lead you to believe the game would be closely contested.

However, as the week went on very few gave the Ravens a true chance to defeat the mighty 49ers, and that doubt fueled the Ravens on their way to a commanding 33-19 victory over the 49ers.

It wasn’t all easy for the Ravens on Monday night however as an opening drive three and out gave Brock Purdy and the 49ers the opportunity to score first. After a drive by the 49ers that saw them get into Ravens red zone, it was quickly halted as Purdy was intercepted by Ravens safety Kyle Hamilton his first of two on the night.

But off the turnover disaster would strike for the Ravens as Lamar Jackson scrambled on the fourth play of the drive as he was chased by 49ers defensive end Chase Young. In an effort to get out of the way an official tripped causing Jackson to fall into the end zone, throwing the ball just feet in front of him. Lamar was called for intentional grounding and because it was in the end zone was called a safety.

The 49ers largely dominated the first half as they leaned on MVP candidate Christian McCaffrey out gaining the Ravens in the first two quarters. But turnovers were the difference as Purdy was intercepted three times in the first half. The Ravens were able to turn those interceptions into 16 points as running back Gus Edwards was the lone touchdown in the half for the Ravens.

Taking a 16-12 lead into the half the Ravens knew they needed more big stops and to put the ball in the end zone if they wanted to put away such a dangerous 49ers team. On the Ravens first possession of the second half Jackson drove the Ravens down inside the 49ers six-yard line before finding Nelson Agholor in the corner of the end zone for Jackson’s first passing touchdown on the night.

On the 49ers second possession of the second half the Ravens defense kept the momentum, intercepting Purdy for the fourth time this time by linebacker Patrick Queen who returned it to the 49ers nine-yard line. On the very next play Jackson would find his receiver Zay Flowers open up the middle of the field for the quick one play drive to extend the Ravens lead 30-12 early in the third quarter.

The Ravens would tack on more points on their next possession finishing off an 11 play 89 yard drive with a Justin Tucker 24-yard field goal to make it a 33-12 game late in the third quarter.

Brock Purdy would be knocked out of the game early in the fourth quarter with a stinger leading to the end of the worst game in his young career. Purdy was held to 18-of-32 passing for 255 yards, no touchdowns, and the four interceptions.

His replacement Sam Darnold was efficient in his one quarter of work as he got the 49ers into the end zone with just over six minutes to play to cut the Ravens lead 33-19. It would simply be too little too late for the 49ers as a last ditch effort to cut the lead down even more late in the fourth, would be stopped after Ravens safety Marcus Williams who picked off Darnold in the end zone to seal the victory for the Ravens.

Monday nights win was a total team effort, and one the Raves will need as they enter the post season. Quarterback Lamar Jackson looked and played liked the MVP favorite throwing for 252 yards on 25-of-35 passing, while leading the team with seven carries for 45 yards.

Despite being out gained 429-343 the Ravens defense limited the 49ers the best way you can and avoided the 49ers from stacking big plays on top of one another. Ravens defensive coordinator Mike McDonalds bend but don’t break philosophy is what has made the Ravens the number one scoring defense in the NFL.

The win makes the Ravens the only team in the NFL with a 12-3 record, but the Ravens won’t have much time to celebrate as they get set for another pivotal matchup against the Miami Dolphins next Sunday. The Ravens and Dolphins are currently fighting for the number one overall seed in the AFC, and with a Ravens win they would secure the number one seed before the final week of the season.

Notable Injuries:

Kyle Hamilton (knee)- Day-to-Day

Kevin Zeitler (groin)- Day-to-Day

Patrick Mekari (head)- Day-to-Day

Games Notes:

Wide Receiver Zay Flowers led all Ravens receivers with 72 receiving yards.

Linebacker Roquan Smith led all Ravens with eight total tackles.

The Ravens now have seven wins of 14 or more points over teams with winning records, currently an NFL record.

Quarterback Lamar Jackson is now 20-1 versus the NFC as a starter.

The Ravens five interceptions is the most by a Ravens defense since 2007.

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