The Baltimore Ravens moved into first place of the entire AFC Conference after holding off the San Francisco 49ers, 16-6, in a tough, non-conference “slugfest” on Nov. 24 at M&T Bank Stadium in downtown Baltimore, Md.

The historic significance of the Ravens’ maiden Thanksgiving Day appearance—and the first for a Baltimore NFL team in 50 years–was deepened by the first-ever clash of NFL teams with brothers at the helm.

The John Harbaugh-coached Ravens now carry an 8-3 overall record, the third most wins of any team in the NFL. The Jim Harbaugh-led 49ers drop to 9-2 overall, but still has the second best record in the league behind only the perfect 11-0 Green Bay Packers.

The Ravens sealed the win over San Francisco when…
Ravens’ kicker Billy Cundiff nailed a 39-yard field goal to push Baltimore ahead, 16-6, with just 3:14 left in the game. The 49ers would then need two scores to tie or win the game, but simply did not have enough time to overcome such a deficit.

Most Outstanding Player(s) of the Game:
Ravens’ four-year quarterback Joe Flacco had a very efficient performance, completing 15-of-23 passes for 161 yards, a touchdown and a 100.1 passer rating. He connected with eight different receivers in the game, including a short touchdown pass to second-year tight end Dennis Pitta late in the game.

Veteran receiver Anquan Boldin led the team with four catches for 63 yards, while running back Ray Rice followed with three catches for 24 yards; Rice also rushed for 59 yards on 21 carries, helping the Ravens win the battle of time possession.

On defense, Ravens’ Pro Bowl linebacker Terrell Suggs recorded three sacks, giving him 77 career sacks, the most in team history. Defensive lineman Corey Redding followed with 2.5 sacks.

Unsung Heroes of the Game:
The Ravens’ played their second straight game without longtime defensive general Ray Lewis, who is sidelined with a minor injury. But they still managed to hold the 49ers out of the end zone, thanks to backup inside linebacker Brendan Ayanbadejo filling Lewis’ void. Ayanbadejo recorded four tackles on the game, following fellow inside linebacker Jameel McClain who led the way with eight tackles. Reserve linebacker Albert McClellan also stepped up to the challenge, adding four tackles of his own.

More Game Notes:
The Ravens recorded nine sacks against the 49ers, the most they’ve racked up in a single game all season. The nine sacks also tied a franchise record for the most in a single contest; Baltimore last had nine sacks against the Pittsburgh Steelers in a game during the 2006 season.

Ravens’ head coach John Harbaugh, 49, is the older brother of 49ers’ first-year head coach Jim Harbaugh, 46. This marked the first time in NFL history that two brothers faced each other as opposing head coaches.

Next Up:
The Ravens will travel to Cleveland, Sunday Dec. 4 to face the Browns (4-6 overall) in an AFC North divisional battle. If they wish to close out the season in first place in the AFC and secure home-field advantage in the playoffs; from now on, Baltimore needs every win they can get.


Perry Green

AFRO Sports Editor