Thursday, November 24, 2011
Rapid Reaction: Ravens 16, 49ers 6
By Jamison Hensley
BALTIMORE -- Thoughts on the Baltimore Ravens-San Francisco 49ers game:
What it means: Winning the Harbaugh Bowl means more than just bragging rights for John Harbaugh over his brother Jim. The Ravens improved to an AFC-best 8-3 and can make the case for being the best team in the conference. Baltimore once again plays its best against the best, ending the eight-game winning streak of the 49ers, who hadn't lost since Sept. 18. This was the Ravens' eighth straight win at M&T Bank Stadium, which is currently the second-longest home streak among NFL teams.
Sack attack: The Ravens continually crashed the pocket, sacking Alex Smith nine times. That ties the Ravens' single-game record. With four minutes left in the fourth quarter, Smith had 12 completions and the Ravens had eight sacks. Outside linebacker Terrell Suggs (three sacks) and defensive end Cory Redding (2.5) led the sack parade. Smith had been sacked 10 times in his previous seven games.
Decisive drive: With the game tied at 6-6, Joe Flacco marched the Ravens 76 yards on 16 plays, capping the drive with an 8-yard, fourth-quarter touchdown pass to tight end Dennis Pitta. On third downs in that possession, Flacco was 4-for-4 for 34 yards and a touchdown.
Not missing Ray Lewis: Without Lewis (toe injury) and his backup Dannell Ellerbe (thigh), Baltimore was still strong against the run. 49ers running back Frank Gore, who has had five 100-yard rushing games this season, was held to 39 yards on 14 carries, a 2.8-yard average.
What's next: The Ravens have 10 days off before playing at the Cleveland Browns on Dec. 4. Baltimore is 3-0 in the AFC North.