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Ravens’ Smothering Defense Overshadows Harbaugh Bowl

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(Credits: UPI/Kevin Dietsch)

After the much anticipated and unprecedented confrontation ended, it was the Baltimore Ravens and John Harbaugh outlasting the San Francisco 49ers and Jim Harbaugh.

The Ravens (8-3) sacked 49ers quarterback Alex Smith nine times, tying a franchise record, despite being without the services of middle linebacker Ray Lewis, the team’s leading tackler and emotional leader. Lewis was forced to miss his second straight game because of a nagging foot injury.

Smith completed 15 of 24 passes for just 140 yards and an interception, as San Francisco was held without a touchdown for the first time all season. The former No. 1 overall pick really couldn’t get into a comfort zone against a relentless pursuit that rarely let him sit back in the pocket.

Terrell Suggs led the charge for the Ravens front seven, sacking Smith three times in the victory. With his three sacks last night, Suggs now has nine for the season to pace the way for one of the leagues most feared units.

(Credits: Joe Giza/Reuters)

With the score tied at 6-6 midway through the third-quarter, Baltimore broke the tie on a 16-play, 76-yard drive, which chewed up more than 7 1/2 minutes off the clock, resulting in an 8-yard touchdown pass from Flacco to tight end Dennis Pitta with 14:56 left in the game. On the drive, Flacco went an impressive 4 of 4 for 34 yards and a touchdown on third downs.

Then, with 4:16 remaining in the game, Billy Cundiff ended any glimmer of hope for a 49er comeback, booting a 39-yard field goal through the uprights.

In a game dominated by two of the leagues premier defense, Flacco ended the night a respectable 15 for 23 for 161 yards, while running back Ray Rice ran for 59 yards on 21 carries.

The Ravens will have the next three days off before returning to work to prepare for a divisional road game against the Cleveland Browns.

Having lost three road games this season after an emotional victory, one would expect the Ravens to be very mindful of the importance of following this win in strong fashion.