What We Learned from Baltimore Ravens’ Win Over San Francisco 49ers
Dec 1, 2019; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens kicker Justin Tucker (9) celebrates with teammates after making the game-winning field goal to beat the San Francisco 49ers 20-17 at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports
In a game that lived up to most of its hype as the game of the year, the Ravens defeated the 49ers, 20-17, on a last-second field goal off the foot of Justin Tucker. Both teams had control of the game for decent stretches, but the Ravens came up with the critical fourth down on San Francisco’s final drive before Lamar Jackson led his second game-winning drive of the season to set up an ironic 49-yard field goal for the win.
What did we learn?
Lamar Jackson is human.
Jackson was not awful, but he had fewer superstar moments against the 49ers. He had his first lost fumble of the season for his first turnover since Week 5. Jackson barely eclipsed the 100-yard mark with his arm, but he did add 100 rushing yards for the fourth time on the season, a record for quarterbacks. The defensive matchup does not ease up as the Ravens play another top-three defense in Buffalo next week.
The Ravens have a great offense, not a historic one.
While the Ravens are scoring on a higher percentage of drives than the best offense in the history of the NFL (2013 Broncos), they have lapses of being too inefficient with the pass. Heading into Week 13, the Ravens were averaging over 35 points per game. The Ravens scuttled to their fewest points scored on the season, but they still won.
The 49ers are legit.
They did not win, but the 49ers came into a hostile environment and executed a nearly flawless gameplan. Except for a Jimmy Garoppolo fumble in the first quarter, the 49ers generally felt in control of the game. San Francisco was a fourth-down conversion from whittling down the clock and pulling out a victory.
The Ravens have improved defensively, but they need to take one more step up.
They forced a turnover and held the NFL’s best scoring offense to just 17 points, but there were places to improve. San Francisco’s first touchdown was a messy play by Marcus Peters. As well as Peters has played since coming to Baltimore, he seemed to take a giant step back as he was not as committed to tackling as he had been in previous weeks, and he was killed on the touchdown. The run defense held Tevin Coleman in check, but Raheem Mostert obliterated the Ravens on virtually every carry. Even if you discount Mostert’s 40-yard touchdown, he still averaged just a shade under six yards per carry. The rush defense was simply putrid.
The Ravens can overcome adversity.
The 49ers took the opening drive down for a touchdown. Despite not scoring on the ensuing drive on offense, the defense stepped up and forced a turnover to set up a short field for Lamar Jackson to find Mark Andrews for a touchdown. Later in the game, Lamar Jackson seemed to change momentum, but the defense stood firm and permitted a San Francisco field goal. The offense was far from perfect, but the defense had two of their most important stops after the offense failed.
A look into the AFC playoff picture:
The 10-2 Ravens have jumped over the Patriots to become the No. 1 seed in the AFC. The Ravens are three games clear of the Steelers in the AFC North. The Ravens would clinch a playoff spot and the AFC North crown with a win and a Pittsburgh loss next week. The Ravens currently hold head-to-head tiebreakers over the Patriots, Texans, and Steelers, so they are unlikely to slip too far in the AFC playoff picture.
A look into the NFC playoff picture:
The 10-2 49ers are still the top seed in the NFC, but if Seattle beats Minnesota on Monday Night Football, the Seahawks would leapfrog the 49ers and push them to the fifth seed. As of now, the 49ers hold the tiebreaker over the Saints due to conference record. The 49ers failed to clinch a playoff spot in Week 13, but they will have clinching scenarios in Week 14. The 49ers only hold a head-to-head tiebreaker over the Packers, but they play the Saints and the Seahawks in the last four weeks.
A look ahead to Week 14:
The Ravens travel north to face the 9-3 Buffalo Bills. The Bills are coming off a critical Thanksgiving win in Dallas, and they will be looking to knock off the Ravens. Despite the Bills currently occupying a Wild Card spot, the Ravens must win so they can hold the potential tiebreaker if the Bills overtake the Patriots in the AFC East.
The 49ers head directly to New Orleans to play the 10-2 Saints. The winner of this game will get a gigantic advantage in the race for home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. The Saints are coming off a Thanksgiving Day win over the Falcons in Atlanta.