In the days leading into the Week 13 matchup between the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers, there was plenty of buzz around the team. It was taken up another notch, with star safety Earl Thomas voicing that it could be a potential Super Bowl matchup. The Ravens came out in the highly competitive contest behind a last-second field goal, grabbing their eighth straight win.
Ravens separate themselves as NFL’s best team
The matchup between the 49ers and Ravens was everything that it was billed up to be as these two teams looked every bit the part as arguably the best top two squads in each conference.
Lamar Jackson was once again the driving factor for the Ravens offense that proved to be the difference-maker behind his NFL record fourth 100-rushing yard performance of the year. San Francisco’s defense limited Baltimore to just 3-of-10 on third-down conversions and 4.6 yards per play, forcing Jackson to fumble.
It was their strong collective play on both sides of the ball that once again showcased through against another powerhouse team in the NFL. Their strong play defensively that was up for the challenge in the contest that limited the 49ers offensive production to just 15 first downs along with 4-of-12 on third-down conversions despite allowing 174 rushing yards.
49ers may have defensive game plan against Ravens
Baltimore edged out the win on Sunday afternoon, but there was plenty to be encouraged by for the 49ers.
Their offense held its own on the road with 174 rushing yards with 6.0 yards attempt, but it was the play of their defense. Jackson may have been the tone-setter with his legs in the running game, but it saw Mark Ingram limited to 59 rushing yards on 15 carries.
Meanwhile, it was a roughly quiet performance in the passing game as Jackson completed 14-of-23 passes for 105 yards and a touchdown. The 49ers headed into Week 13 action holding the league’s best pass defense, limiting opponents to 136.9 yards and second-best with a 72.7 opposing quarterback passer rating.
San Francisco has been able to bank in on its stoutness against the pass behind their strong front four on the defensive line, which they have been in the middle of the pack allowing 111.1 rushing yards per contest. At that same token, the 49ers defense has presented the Ravens offense with its toughest challenge through this point in the season.
Lamar Jackson remains x-factor in the running game
As it has been throughout the season, Jackson has been an enormous headache for opposing teams to figure out.
The 49ers are no different in that regard, with Jackson garnering 105 rushing yards on just 16 carries. It has been his decision-making, along with his elusiveness behind one of the league’s best offensive lines that have made him a bigger problem in the running game.
The Ravens haven’t had any notable reason to stray away from that game plan, especially with Jackson playing largely mistake-free with his passing with only five interceptions this season. If these two teams were to play again in the Super Bowl, there would be adjustments made and potentially a much better game plan against them with two weeks to prepare for the contest for the 49ers.
The weather may have very well have played a factor in Sunday’s game, but it’s clear that the Ravens will need to move the ball down the field more with their passing game. It’s quite challenging to critique a team that has won eight straight games, but it will need to be a necessary adjustment if there is a next time around Super Bowl 54 against one of the league’s top defenses.