Ravens Rout 49ers in Impressive Show of Strength

Ravens Rout 49ers in Impressive Show of Strength

The Baltimore Ravens continued to roll with momentum in Week 16 when they went on the road and beat the San Francisco 49ers 33-19 on the best Christmas night ever. This interconference heavyweight saw several encouraging performances as they won their fifth game in a row in the boldest statement possible.

Here are some standout performances from the team’s Week 16 win that deserve spicy but reasonably thought-provoking shots. In a week filled with massive hype and plenty of disrespect in the national media leading up to this epic matchup, the underdog Ravens proved they are arguably the best team in the league.

They showed up and delivered what many pundits believed would be the best game of the year or a potential Super Bowl win over the 49ers on Monday Night Football. The top two teams entered this game with the league’s best records and longest active winning streaks, but once again the Ravens are playing their best. Seven of the 12 wins this season have come by at least 14 points and against opponents with winning records.

According to OptaSTATS, no team in NFL history has ever had more than five regular-season wins over teams with a winning record. In addition to the NFC West champion 49ers, they knocked off the NFC North champion Detroit Lions and the AFC South leader Jacksonville Jaguars this year. The second half of their schedule was considered the scariest, especially the current stretch they were in since the week before, but Baltimore hasn’t backed down and seems to be peaking in all three phases of the season at the right time.

According to Aaron Schatz, only three teams since 1981 have had a higher DVOA than the Ravens’ 43.6 percent through 15 games this season. Despite suffering their most lopsided loss of the season and since the 2022 NFC Championship when they lost their top two quarterbacks, the 49ers still rank right behind them with a DVOA of 42.6 percent through 15 games which is a further testament to just how impressive the Ravens’ Week 16 victory was on Christmas.

On defense, the Ravens came away with five interceptions for the first time since 2007, four-plus sacks for the ninth time this season, 11 pass breakups, five tackles for loss, and nine quarterback hits. Special teams made significant contributions in scoring points on four Justin Tucker field goals and winning the field position battle with Jordan Stout’s punting couple with their kick coverage and returns from Tylan Wallace.

The offense scored on seven straight drives which is the most the 49ers have allowed since the 2005 season. According to Mike Sando of The Athletic, the Ravens were the first team since 2020 to outperform the 49ers in all three phases of the game in terms of EPA.

The Ravens haven’t gotten past the divisional round of the playoffs since 2012, and after taking down the Super Bowl-favorite 49ers, they should be favored to not only end their conference championship drought, but also reach a third game. Vince Lombardi Award in franchise history as well. Also helping their odds is that their quarterback career record against NFC opponents is now 20-1 since their last conference win.

The best part for the Ravens, who have played in primetime in four of their last five games, is that the entire country, including die-hard score watchers, has seen firsthand that statistics alone don’t fully reflect how ironic Jackson’s case is. is to win his second league MVP honor this year. As effective as his 252 passing yards on 23 carries with two touchdowns and a 105.9 passer rating with a team-leading 45 yards on just seven attempts, his plays were truly remarkable when they were put together.

More than just awesome athletic performances, the plays he made with his hands and feet in crucial situations were extremely moving. Jackson bought more time to get his targets open and separate down the field by moving up or rolling out of the pocket to avoid pressure.

He also made up for penalties from his offensive linemen who would have weakened and killed passing yards in years past, gaining the necessary yards and then some to overcome long downs and yards. His most tying play came on the Ravens’ final drive of the first half when the offense faced third-and-16 on the edge of the end zone. He held the ball until he felt pressure behind and around him.

With little time left on the clock, he decided to go for it and took off 30 yards in an electric scramble where he forced multiple defenders into space and dropped without much tact to set up Tucker for a chip shot attempt. Ravens lead 16-12 at halftime. As for Jackson and his case for league MVP in a year when no quarterback is putting up outstanding historical numbers, he is the clear front-runner after his Week 16 performance. As Ravens All-Pro inside linebacker Roquan Smith eloquently and accurately put it in his postgame comments, “If anyone watched the game [or] if anyone watched football this season and watched the Baltimore Ravens, they definitely know [that] Lamar Jackson is. the MVP, hands down.

” “Everybody who watches football and knows football and [sees] the impact he has on the game – not even statistically, but individually, the plays he makes in the quarterfinals and quarterfinals, plays in and out – compares his film to someone anybody else in the league.,” added Smith. “I’d like to hear what others have to say after that.” Jackson isn’t the Ravens’ only youngster.

Before leaving in the fourth quarter with a minor knee injury, Hamilton recorded two interceptions, three pass breakups, and five total tackles in just 48 defensive snaps—tied for the second lowest in a game this season excluding his Week 6 ejection. On his first interception, he baited 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy in thinking he had Deebo Samuels wide open on a crossing route to the right side of the field and undercut the pass for a huge drive-ending turnover after it looked like San Francisco was destined to finish their first possession in the end zone after they had marched the ball 74 yards to the Ravens 15-yard line in just four plays.

Hamilton’s second interception was a prime example of never giving up on a play even after it starts off rough because persistence can pay big dividends. After getting chop blocked by 49ers running back Christian McCaffery and then landed on by offensive guard Aaron Banks, he got back up to his feet and found himself at the right place at the right time to corral a ball that was tipped up in the air after Purdy threw a risky pass across his body. In less than a year, Hamilton has gone from a rising star to a certified game wrecker who is the most indispensable and irreplaceable player in the Ravens’ entire defense.

The way he can affect the game at all three levels all over the field allows defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald to come up with and unlock a variety of creative pressures and disguise coverages. According to NextGenStats, he lined up or started snaps at six different positions against the 49ers, including defensive tackle (one), inside linebacker (two), edge (six), safety (nine), outside linebacker 14, slot/nickel ( 15). ). ).

Hamilton wasn’t the only Ravens defensive player to play, and he made several changes against the 49ers on Christmas. Starting cornerbacks Marlon Humphrey and Brandon Stephens were also incredibly impressive in coverage, run support and blitzing.

With veteran slot cornerback Arthur Maulet out with a knee injury and second-year pro Damarion ‘Pepe’ Williams inactive, Humphrey was tasked with sharing the load with Hamilton at the nickel spot and had his best game of the season on multiple fronts. Although he has previous experience in the slot, the three-time Pro Bowler was just two snaps into this critical game and it looked like he would never get going. Humphrey was an absolute menace near the line of scrimmage, where he used blocks to blow up plays in the backfield even when he didn’t get the snap, and made several big hits on ball carriers and receivers.

Veteran Ronald Darby’s defensive call on fourth-and-short canceled what would have been his first sack of the season and ended the 49ers’ second drive. He finished with three tackles, an interception and a pair of pass breakups — one of which led to Hamilton’s second turnover.

Stephens gave up some plays in the field, but also did his part and shot very well in space, finishing with five in total, including four solo. The third-year breakout rising star also recorded a pair of pass breakups, the first of which came on a blitz off the edge where he jumped up and tipped the ball in the air like a volleyball setter to help Humphrey notch his first interception and turnover overall of the season.

The Ravens haven’t had a pair of lockdown cornerbacks since Humphrey was paired with fellow three-time Pro Bowler Marcus Peters from midway through 2019-2022 although their truly elite seasons together were in 2019 and 2020. Peters missed all of 2021 with a torn ACL and wasn’t quite himself last year. Humphrey didn’t finish the 2021 season and was the only lockdown corner for the Ravens last season, not allowing a single touchdown and tying his career-high in interceptions with three in 17 games. With Humphrey already under contract on a lucrative deal through the 202() season and Stephens still having a year left on his rookie contract, the Ravens’ new dynamic duo will be together for at least one more year and perhaps more if the 2021 third-rounder gets extended this upcoming offseason or next.


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