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Ravens Insider: Instant analysis from Ravens’ 33-19 win over San Francisco 49ers


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Here’s what The Baltimore Sun sports staff had to say immediately after the Ravens’ 33-19 win over the host San Francisco 49ers in Monday night’s Week 16 game at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California.

Brian Wacker: So much for the NFL Most Valuable Player race, at least for 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy. The Ravens’ defense made the last pick of the 2022 NFL draft look like Mr. Irrelevant, harassing him into four interceptions after he’d thrown just seven all season.

The Ravens’ offense had it own issues at times — notably struggling to move the ball early and Lamar Jackson tripping over an official in the end zone and getting called for intentional grounding in the end zone — but it also didn’t need to move the ball very far at times after San Francisco gift-wrapped ideal field position.

As for Jackson, he got off a sluggish start but eventually found his footing. He rushed for 45 yards, including a dazzling 30-yard scamper on third-and-16 with 24 seconds remaining in the first half. But it was what he did with his feet in the pocket that stood out. Time and again, he bought time for his teammates, shuffling and slipping away from defenders, all the while surveying the field. The two touchdown passes were important, of course, but so often was Jackson’s decision-making and dynamic playmaking, which included not turning the ball over.

The Ravens dominated San Francisco physically and Jackson did the rest.

Childs Walker: Wow. The Ravens have repeatedly solved the problems in front of them over the past two months, but they took their season to another level against the hottest team in the league. Lamar Jackson submitted his Most Valuable Player brief, dancing away from pressure and avoiding mistakes, unlike his 49ers counterpart, Brock Purdy.

The Ravens’ defense counterpunched with the league’s most efficient offense in the first half, then dominated for much of the second. The only cloud in a brilliant sky was another knee injury to safety Kyle Hamilton, their most important defender, in the fourth quarter.

The Ravens played with fire early, allowing chunk gains to the 49ers’ elite playmakers but bailing themselves out by creating turnovers. Brandon Stephens and Hamilton made tremendous reads on those takeaways, continuing their breakout seasons. After a rough start, Jackson began to find openings against San Francisco’s defense, driving the Ravens to a touchdown after Purdy’s second of three first-half interceptions. John Harbaugh made the right call, going for it on fourth down at the goal line to finish that drive.

The Ravens poured it on at the start of the second half, with Jackson working his improvisatory magic and another takeaway putting them in position to go up 30-12.

Mike Preston: This was a shocker. The Ravens go on the road to the West Coast and play supposedly the best team in the NFL, and they beat the 49ers. This wasn’t just a slight victory, but a beatdown. The Ravens left no doubt they are the best team in the NFL. Not only the best, but the most physical. Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson got off to a slow start, but the defense carried the team until he warmed up. It was an impressive win by the Ravens and it will be interesting to see how they play Sunday against the fleet-footed Miami Dolphins, but the Ravens have a physical presence about them that leads to domination.

C.J. Doon: The Ravens’ best is still better than any team in the league. Sure, they were fortunate to grab two interceptions on tipped passes and a third after Brock Purdy’s arm was hit as he threw, but give credit to the defense for flying around, swarming to the ball and making it difficult for one of the league’s best offenses to get comfortable. Mike Macdonald only bolstered his head coaching candidacy with how he made Purdy look more like Mr. Irrelevant than an MVP frontrunner. The Ravens looked more physical throughout the game, which is no small feat against a San Francisco team that had been bullying its way to the top of the NFC. A plus-four turnover margin is not sustainable week to week, but playing tough certainly is. Of course, it couldn’t come easy, with another knee injury for star safety Kyle Hamilton and a late 49ers rally ruining what was otherwise a standout night.

Tim Schwartz: What a Christmas night beatdown. It felt like nobody really gave the Ravens a chance (the betting line closed at 6 1/2 in favor of San Francisco) and they left no doubt which team is better right now by going into Santa Clara and bullying the NFC’s top team. They spooked 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy early and he never recovered, throwing four interceptions including two to Mr. First Team All-Pro Kyle Hamilton. Lamar Jackson is the favorite to win his second Most Valuable Player award with a commanding performance that was made even more eye-popping thanks to Purdy’s ineptitude. Name a team with wins better than the Ravens’ against the Lions, Seahawks and 49ers? Not because those teams in particular are the best in the league, but the way they dismantled all three is what makes the Ravens the best team in football. There is no contest for that title right now. But as we all know in Baltimore, they will be judged on what they do in the postseason.

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