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Ravens Insider: Ravens, ‘fueled’ by disrespect, beat 49ers, 33-19, as Lamar Jackson strengthens case for MVP


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SANTA CLARA, Calif. — As Ravens coach John Harbaugh walked into his postgame news conference in the bowels of Levi’s Stadium late Monday night, he smiled at the assembled media and cracked, “I’m not even gonna mention who some of you all picked.”

There was plenty to be happy about, and to puff his chest out about.

A 33-19 victory over the 49ers on Monday night keeps the Ravens (12-3) atop the AFC and gives them the best record in the NFL. It was also, in the words of wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., a “statement game.” And the pounding made a statement, with Baltimore having heard the predictions and pundits and using its supposed demise against San Francisco as motivation to deliver a message of their own and for that of their own NFL Most Valuable Player candidate, quarterback Lamar Jackson.

“All week we were fueled [by it],” Ravens defensive tackle Justin Madubuike said. “It was crazy how people was talking on all the podcasts, on all the networks, how they almost kinged [the 49ers] as kings of the NFL. The respect wasn’t there. It definitely fueled everybody in this locker room.”

Added inside linebacker Patrick Queen, who also delivered the team speech in the pregame huddle: “We play a brand of football that people don’t want to play. Everybody wants to be out here [being] cute, playing basketball on grass and stuff, and we [are not] with all that. You can do all that stuff; we’re just going to hit you in the mouth every play.”

‘Tis the season of giving, or at least it was in a Christmas showdown between MVP candidates in which the Ravens’ defense harassed 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy into four interceptions, while Jackson continually escaped San Francisco’s pass rush to deliver big-time plays against another big-time team.

Jackson finished 23 of 35 passing for 252 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for 45 yards on seven carries, but the numbers tell only a smidgeon about the performance, which is perhaps why the Ravens quarterback is now the betting favorite to win his second MVP award after being the unanimous choice in 2019.

In the locker room afterward, there were chants of “MVP, MVP, MVP” for Jackson after Harbaugh gave him the game ball and delivered a speech about who the MVP of the league is. The Ravens have seven wins by 14-plus points this season, all against opponents that are currently above .500. No team in NFL history has had more than five regular-season wins by such a margin against teams that finished that season with a winning record, and much of that is because of Jackson.

  • Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Zay Flowers, left, catches a touchdown...

    Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Zay Flowers, left, catches a touchdown pass during the second half of an NFL football game against the San Francisco 49ers in Santa Clara, Calif., Monday, Dec. 25, 2023. (AP Photo/Godofredo A. Vásquez)

  • Nelson Agholor #15 of the Baltimore Ravens celebrate after catching...

    Nelson Agholor #15 of the Baltimore Ravens celebrate after catching a touchdown during the third quarter against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium on Dec. 25, 2023 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Loren Elliott/Getty Images)

  • Gus Edwards #35 of the Baltimore Ravens stiff arms Fred...

    Gus Edwards #35 of the Baltimore Ravens stiff arms Fred Warner #54 of the San Francisco 49ers during the third quarter at Levi's Stadium on Dec. 25, 2023 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

  • Baltimore Ravens place kicker Justin Tucker (9) celebrates after kicking...

    Baltimore Ravens place kicker Justin Tucker (9) celebrates after kicking a field goal during the first half of an NFL football game against the San Francisco 49ers in Santa Clara, Calif., Monday, Dec. 25, 2023. (AP Photo/Godofredo A. Vásquez)

  • Christian McCaffrey #23 of the San Francisco 49ers dives past...

    Christian McCaffrey #23 of the San Francisco 49ers dives past Marlon Humphrey #44 of the Baltimore Ravens while scoring a rushing touchdown during the second quarter at Levi's Stadium on Dec. 25, 2023 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

  • Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Rashod Bateman (7) runs against San...

    Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Rashod Bateman (7) runs against San Francisco 49ers cornerback Ambry Thomas during the first half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Monday, Dec. 25, 2023. (AP Photo/Jed Jacobsohn)

  • Baltimore Ravens safety Kyle Hamilton (14) celebrates with teammates after...

    Baltimore Ravens safety Kyle Hamilton (14) celebrates with teammates after intercepting a pass against the San Francisco 49ers during the first half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Monday, Dec. 25, 2023. (AP Photo/Jed Jacobsohn)

  • Fred Warner #54 of the San Francisco 49ers attempts to...

    Fred Warner #54 of the San Francisco 49ers attempts to tackle Zay Flowers #4 of the Baltimore Ravens during the second quarter at Levi's Stadium on Dec. 25, 2023 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

  • Baltimore Ravens running back Gus Edwards (35) scores against the...

    Baltimore Ravens running back Gus Edwards (35) scores against the San Francisco 49ers during the first half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Monday, Dec. 25, 2023. (AP Photo/Jed Jacobsohn)

  • Baltimore Ravens running back Gus Edwards, right, celebrates after scoring...

    Baltimore Ravens running back Gus Edwards, right, celebrates after scoring against the San Francisco 49ers during the first half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Monday, Dec. 25, 2023. (AP Photo/Jed Jacobsohn)

  • Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, left, celebrates with wide receiver Nelson...

    Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, left, celebrates with wide receiver Nelson Agholor after connecting on a 6-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter Monday night against the 49ers in Santa Clara, California. (Godofredo A. Vásquez/AP)

  • Justin Tucker #9 of the Baltimore Ravens kicks a field...

    Justin Tucker #9 of the Baltimore Ravens kicks a field goal during the first quarter against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium on Dec. 25, 2023 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Loren Elliott/Getty Images)

  • Baltimore Ravens running back Justice Hill (43) is tackled against...

    Baltimore Ravens running back Justice Hill (43) is tackled against the San Francisco 49ers during the first half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Monday, Dec. 25, 2023. (AP Photo/Jed Jacobsohn)

  • Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Nelson Agholor (15) is tackled by...

    Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Nelson Agholor (15) is tackled by San Francisco 49ers cornerback Ambry Thomas during the first half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Monday, Dec. 25, 2023. (AP Photo/Jed Jacobsohn)

  • Justin Madubuike #92 of the Baltimore Ravens tackles Christian McCaffrey...

    Justin Madubuike #92 of the Baltimore Ravens tackles Christian McCaffrey #23 of the San Francisco 49ers during the first quarter at Levi's Stadium on Dec. 25, 2023 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Loren Elliott/Getty Images)

  • George Kittle #85 of the San Francisco 49ers attempts to...

    George Kittle #85 of the San Francisco 49ers attempts to block Marlon Humphrey #44 of the Baltimore Ravens as Humphrey tackles Deebo Samuel #19 of the San Francisco 49ers during the first quarter at Levi's Stadium on Dec. 25, 2023 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

  • San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy, right, is tackled by...

    San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy, right, is tackled by Baltimore Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphrey during the first half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Monday, Dec. 25, 2023. (AP Photo/Jed Jacobsohn)

  • San Francisco 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey, right, runs against...

    San Francisco 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey, right, runs against Baltimore Ravens defensive tackle Justin Madubuike, middle, during the first half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Monday, Dec. 25, 2023. (AP Photo/Godofredo A. Vásquez)

  • An official falls down as Lamar Jackson #8 of the...

    An official falls down as Lamar Jackson #8 of the Baltimore Ravens is pressured by Fred Warner #54 and Chase Young #92 of the San Francisco 49ers during the first quarter at Levi's Stadium on Dec. 25, 2023 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Loren Elliott/Getty Images)

  • Kyle Hamilton #14 of the Baltimore Ravens intercepts a pass...

    Kyle Hamilton #14 of the Baltimore Ravens intercepts a pass intended for Deebo Samuel #19 of the San Francisco 49ers during the first quarter at Levi's Stadium on Dec. 25, 2023 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

  • Kyle Juszczyk #44 of the San Francisco 49ers tackles Kyle...

    Kyle Juszczyk #44 of the San Francisco 49ers tackles Kyle Hamilton #14 of the Baltimore Ravens as Hamilton returns an interception during the first quarter at Levi's Stadium on Dec. 25, 2023 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Loren Elliott/Getty Images)

  • Kyle Hamilton #14 of the Baltimore Ravens celebrates with teammates...

    Kyle Hamilton #14 of the Baltimore Ravens celebrates with teammates after his interception during the first quarter against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium on Dec. 25, 2023 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Loren Elliott/Getty Images)

  • Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, right, throws to ball while...

    Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, right, throws to ball while trying to avoid San Francisco 49ers defensive end Chase Young during the first half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Monday, Dec. 25, 2023. Jackson was called for intentional grounding in the end zone on the play, which scored a safety for the 49ers. (AP Photo/Jed Jacobsohn)

  • Baltimore Ravens' Tylan Wallace, foreground left, returns a kickoff against...

    Baltimore Ravens' Tylan Wallace, foreground left, returns a kickoff against San Francisco 49ers' Darrell Luter Jr. during the first half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Monday, Dec. 25, 2023. (AP Photo/Godofredo A. Vásquez)

  • Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Zay Flowers, left, celebrates with tight...

    Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Zay Flowers, left, celebrates with tight end Isaiah Likely after scoring against the San Francisco 49ers during the second half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Monday, Dec. 25, 2023. (AP Photo/Godofredo A. Vásquez)

  • San Francisco 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey, middle, is tackled...

    San Francisco 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey, middle, is tackled by Baltimore Ravens defensive tackle Justin Madubuike, left, and linebacker Roquan Smith (0) during the second half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Monday, Dec. 25, 2023. (AP Photo/Godofredo A. Vásquez)

  • Patrick Queen #6 of the Baltimore Ravens hits George Kittle...

    Patrick Queen #6 of the Baltimore Ravens hits George Kittle #85 of the San Francisco 49ers after Queen's interception during the third quarter at Levi's Stadium on Dec. 25, 2023 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

  • Kyle Hamilton #14 of the Baltimore Ravens celebrates after his...

    Kyle Hamilton #14 of the Baltimore Ravens celebrates after his interception during the second quarter against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium on Dec. 25, 2023 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

  • Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) avoids the grasp of...

    Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) avoids the grasp of San Francisco 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa (97) as offensive tackle Morgan Moses (78) blocks during the first half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Monday, Dec. 25, 2023. (AP Photo/Godofredo A. Vásquez)

  • Baltimore Ravens safety Kyle Hamilton (14) walks off the field...

    Baltimore Ravens safety Kyle Hamilton (14) walks off the field with trainers during the second half of an NFL football game against the San Francisco 49ers in Santa Clara, Calif., Monday, Dec. 25, 2023. (AP Photo/Jed Jacobsohn)

  • San Francisco 49ers quarterback Sam Darnold (14) is tackled against...

    San Francisco 49ers quarterback Sam Darnold (14) is tackled against the Baltimore Ravens during the second half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Monday, Dec. 25, 2023. (AP Photo/Jed Jacobsohn)

  • Baltimore Ravens safety Marcus Williams, top, tackles San Francisco 49ers...

    Baltimore Ravens safety Marcus Williams, top, tackles San Francisco 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey during the second half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Monday, Dec. 25, 2023. (AP Photo/Godofredo A. Vásquez)

  • San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Ronnie Bell (10) runs against...

    San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Ronnie Bell (10) runs against the Baltimore Ravens during the second half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Monday, Dec. 25, 2023. (AP Photo/Jed Jacobsohn)

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“I thought Lamar had an MVP performance tonight,” Harbaugh said when he met with reporters. “It takes a team to create a performance like that, but it takes a player to play at that level — to play at an MVP level — it takes a player to play that way. And Lamar was all over the field doing everything.

“He operated a pretty complicated game plan. … He made decisions on the field, and then just kept plays alive [and] trusted his offensive line. … Lamar trusted those guys, he kept plays alive, he moved in the pocket, [and] he created space for the overage guys. Our guys did a great job of scramble drills of getting open. We had a number of plays that were extended. They were big plays for us. Just a complete game by Lamar.”

And a complete dismantling of the 49ers (11-4).

San Francisco came in riding a six-game winning streak and quickly took a 5-0 first-quarter lead after a safety in which Jackson was called for intentional grounding in the end zone after tripping over a fallen official and a 45-yard field goal by Jake Moody. But the Ravens responded with 13 straight points that were aided by interceptions first from safety Kyle Hamilton, then cornerback Marlon Humphrey.

Then Hamilton picked off Purdy again.

That helped set up two field goals by Justin Tucker from 28 and 41 yards, along with a 1-yard score by running back Gus Edwards. The 49ers, meanwhile, had outgained the Ravens 144-42 in the opening quarter but failed to find the end zone and paid for it.

Still, the 49ers hung around, thanks to their other MVP candidate, running back Christian McCaffrey (13 carries for 102 yards), whose touchdown from 9 yards out with 3:29 remaining in the first half cut the deficit to one. That was as close as the 49ers would get the rest of the night.

Then Jackson simply made a play, as he so often does.

With the Ravens facing third-and-16 from the 49ers’ 41 with 24 seconds remaining in the half and no one open as the quarterback scanned the field and Chase Young closed in from behind, Jackson slipped away from the edge defender. He weaved and sliced his way through the 49ers’ defense for a 30-yard gain, setting up a third field goal by Tucker, this time from 28 yards, to close out the half and give the Ravens a 16-12 lead.

In the second half, the Ravens’ defense picked up where it left off in the first, and so did Jackson.

After the 49ers went three-and-out before a 23-yard punt return by Tylan Wallace that was padded by a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty on a hit out of bounds by punter Mitch Wishnowsky, Jackson scrambled away from pressure and after a few seconds found a wide-open Edwards on a short pass in the middle of the field. The back rumbled for 39 yards, and two plays later the quarterback again escaped the rush, rolled left and on the run hit Nelson Agholor for a 6-yard score on the sideline.

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson speaks at a news conference after an NFL football game against the San Francisco 49ers in Santa Clara, Calif., Monday, Dec. 25, 2023. (AP Photo/Jed Jacobsohn)
Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson finished 23 of 35 passing for 252 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for 45 yards on seven carries on Monday night against the 49ers. (Jed Jacobsohn/AP)

“It’s on the film,” Beckham said of Jackson. “He’s just a different breed. Since the minute I stepped in this building and seen him, I just ain’t seen nothing like it.”

The 49ers saw their fill.

“He is one of the most talented QBs in the league,” 49ers defensive back Deommodore Lenoir said. “I have to give him his props today, he was a great player.”

The Ravens’ defense, which is allowing an NFL-best 16.3 points per game, was dominant, too.

On the 49ers’ next possession and with the ball on their own 25, Purdy lofted a short pass intended for McCaffrey that landed in the hands of Queen, who returned it 21 yards to the 9. Jackson then found an open Zay Flowers (nine catches for 72 yards) in the back of the end zone, extending the lead to 30-12.

“Everybody was writing us off before we even had a chance to play,” Queen said. “We knew what we were capable of, and everybody counted us out. [They] didn’t expect us to even hold up. Everybody was saying we were going to get blown out by double digits or whatever, so we just had to come out and play our style of ball. We all understood the assignment.”

Baltimore then finished it off by breaking San Francisco’s will, if it hadn’t been already, driving 89 yards in 11 plays, highlighted by a 34-yard completion from Jackson to tight end Isaiah Likely down the left sideline followed by a short dropoff to Justice Hill that went for 23 more. That helped set up a 24-yard field goal by Tucker late in the third.

With Purdy out of the game with a stinger (ESPN’s broadcast said he was cleared to return but he did not), backup Sam Darnold hit wide receiver Ronnie Bell on a 12-yard touchdown pass with 6:23 left in the game. But the 49ers wouldn’t score again the rest of the night.

“We got the ‘dub.’ I really don’t care about [my] performance,” Jackson said. “We just need to keep going, keep staying locked in and keep staying focused, because we know what it was in 2019 when we were playing against [teams] like this [and] winning regular-season games. When the time came, we didn’t finish the season.”

If the Ravens beat the Miami Dolphins (11-4) on Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium, they will lock up the top seed in the conference, get a first-round bye and home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs.

But first, they’ll savor this one for at least a few hours. Then it’s on to another important game against another big-time opponent.

“I believe we play better under pressure,” Jackson said. “We keep our poise. … I don’t think anybody plays like us.”


Week 17

Dolphins at Ravens

Sunday, 1 p.m.

TV: CBS

Radio: 97.9 FM, 101.5 FM, 1090 AM

Line: Ravens by 3

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