Ravens Beat 49ers in “Harbaugh Bowl”, 16-6
NFL football on Thanksgiving is an American tradition. Every year we get to see the Cowboys and the Lions square off against a rotating cast of teams. This year the NFL threw a new team into the mix, the Baltimore Ravens.
NFL fans were treated to a defensive battle in the “Har-bowl” as brothers squared off in the ultimate sibling rivalry. Here are five things I took from the Ravens and 49ers battle on Thanksgiving.
1. The 49ers offensive line is not as good as some thought.
During the 49ers first ten games of the season, they had given only seven sacks. Thursday night, the protection broke down and Alex Smith was sacked nine times by the Baltimore Ravens defense.
49ers right guard Adam Snyder, who was injured on the second series of the game, was replaced by Chilo Rachal. Rachal could just not match up with Haloti Ngata, and thus started the 49ers offensive line woes on the night. Rachal also made a huge mistake when he combined with Frank Gore for a huge chop block penalty which brought a touchdown back for the 49ers.
The 49ers offensive line was a huge part of their success early in the season, and if they want to get back to form, they need Snyder to get healthy. However, if one man makes that much of a difference, that exposes some depth problems in San Francisco.
2. The Ravens are almost unbeatable at home.
The Ravens are 6-0 at home this season, and since 2008 have gone 25-5 at M&T Bank Stadium, good enough for a .833 winning percentage.
Having attended my fair share of games at M&T Bank Stadium, I can tell you the difference is the fans. The stadium has to be one of the loudest in the NFL, constantly creating a difficult environment for opposing teams. These are intelligent fans who know when to be loud and when to be quiet.
This is the reason that it is so important to the Ravens to get home-field advantage in the playoffs. When you come into Baltimore, more often than not, you’re leaving with a loss.
3. The 49ers defense is legit.
No, they did not record a sack on Joe Flacco, but the 49ers did what they have been doing all season; they held the running game in check.
Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman tied for the team lead with 8 tackles last night, and are two of the most physical linebackers in the NFL. Aldon Smith is in the conversation for NFL defensive rookie of the year. If San Francisco can learn to defend the pass a little better, this team will be scary.
Defense wins championships, and San Francisco has the top rushing defense in the league. This defense is scary.
4. The Ravens don’t need Ray Lewis in order to dominate on defense.
Baltimore had a number of players step up on defense with Ray Lewis sitting out with a toe injury.
Suggs, Redding, Ngata, Zbikowski and even Webb recorded at least half a sack. Jameel McClain filled in admirably for Ray Lewis, calling the defensive plays. Yes, Ray Lewis is the spiritual leader of the defense, but the Ravens can be just as intimidating without Ray in the lineup.
The Ravens did a great job last night, holding Frank Gore to just 39 yards, and allowing the 49ers to score just 6 points.
5. Both teams will be tough outs in the playoffs.
Both teams have fierce defenses, and as the saying goes “defense wins championships”.
The 49ers are currently the 2nd seed in the NFC and home field advantage could go a long way for them. Expect Jim Harbaugh to do what he has done all year, and have them more than prepared for each and every playoff game.
The Ravens are the top seed in the AFC which gives them a first round bye and home field throughout. If they can hold on to a top 2 spot, they will be nearly unstoppable. A bye week is huge for an aging team, and as I’ve already pointed out, they are almost invincible at home. The big question that they will need to answer is, can they finally get over the Steelers stumbling block and make it to the Super Bowl.