RAVENS TOP NIN­ERS ON RAIN-SOAKED DAY

TUCKER’S LAST-SE­COND 49-YARD FIELD GOAL SEALS BAL­TI­MORE’S LAT­EST VIC­TORY

National Post (Latest Edition) - - SPORTS - MARK MASKE in Bal­ti­more

The of­fen­sive show wasn’ t quite as daz­zling for quar­ter­back La­mar Jack­son and the Bal­ti­more Ravens as they squared off with the rugged de­fence of the San Fran­cisco 49ers in the driv­ing rain Sun­day at M&T Bank Sta­dium.

Jack­son threw for one touch­down and ran for an­other, Justin Tucker kicked a field goal as time ex­pired, and the Ravens ex­tended their win­ning streak to eight games by beat­ing the 49ers, 20-17.

“It was a gritty game,” Ravens Coach John Har­baugh said. “I think it was a grit win for us.”

Tucker’s 49- yarder won it for the Ravens af­ter they con­verted on fourth and one from their own 44- yard line on their win­ning drive. Har­baugh, once a coach about as but­toned- down as they come, has be­come an an­a­lyt­ics- driven fourth- down gam­bler with Jack­son or­ches­trat­ing the league’s most dy­namic of­fence.

“We knew we were go­ing to go for fourth and one at that point, if we got in that sit­u­a­tion,” Har­baugh said. “We prob­a­bly weren’t go­ing longer, maybe. Maybe I would have gone fourth and two. I don’t know. But that was al­ready de­cided.”

That fi­nal gam­ble by Har­baugh came af­ter the teams had traded failed fourth­down tries ear­lier in the fourth quar­ter. The Ravens upped their record to 10- 2 and re­mained on the heels of the New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots for the top seed in the AFC play­offs.

Jack­son ran for 101 yards but had a mod­est 105 pass­ing yards on 14-for-23 throw­ing ac­cu­racy. He called the con­di­tions “hor­ri­ble” for pass­ing and ac­knowl­edged that he had got­ten frus­trated about that.

“It was tick­ing me off,” Jack­son said. “A lot of passes were get­ting away from me.”

The Nin­ers dropped to 102 as they try to stay ahead of the Seat­tle Sea­hawks in the NFC West and vie with the Sea­hawks and New Or­leans Saints for the NFC’S No. 1 seed. Both of their losses this season — to the Sea­hawks in over­time and now to the Ravens — have come on fi­nal- play field goals. There is no time for the 49ers to lament this de­feat, be­cause they play at New Or­leans next Sun­day.

“We gave our­selves a chance,” cor­ner­back Richard Sher­man said. “That’s all you can do. ... We just didn’t make enough plays there.”

If this was a Su­per Bowl pre­view, the re­match in Mi­ami should be com­pet­i­tive and en­ter­tain­ing. These two teams played a tight and com­pelling game in dif­fi­cult con­di­tions Sun­day.

“I don’t think about Fe­bru­ary while we’re in December,” Sher­man said. “We’ve got a lot of time, a lot of things to hap­pen, four games to go. We’re go­ing to get ready for New Or­leans, and we’ll let the chips fall where they may in Fe­bru­ary.”

The game’s early go­ing saw the Ravens punt for the first time with Jack­son still in a game since Week 9 and trail for the first time since Week 7. They man­aged to lead 17-14 at half­time af­ter de­flect­ing a missed 51- yard field goal try by Nin­ers kicker Rob­bie Gould as time ex­pired in the first half.

The Nin­ers struck first on a 33- yard touch­down pass from quar­ter­back Jimmy Garop­polo to wide re­ceiver Deebo Sa­muel on a fourth- and- two play. Sa­muel out­ma­noeu­vred Ravens cor­ner­back Mar­cus Peters on what amounted to a jump ball. The Ravens got even by con­vert­ing a fum­ble lost by Garop­polo on a sack into a touch­down pass from Jack­son to tight end Mark An­drews.

In the se­cond quar­ter, the Ravens sand­wiched a touch­down run by Jack­son and a field goal by Tucker around a 49ers’ touch­down on a 40- yard dash by run­ning back Ra­heem Mostert. Sher­man said the Bal­ti­more of­fence was “about the same” as the 49ers ex­pected. He praised the play of Jack­son, a top league MVP con­tender.

“He’s a good de­ci­sion- maker,” Sher­man said. “He knows his an­gles. He knows his lever­age. He knows when to get down. He knows when to stay up. He knows when to cut back, when to bounce out­side.

“He knows when to keep it. He doesn’t take more than the de­fence will give him. He doesn’t waste time tak­ing shots or look­ing down­field when it’s not there. He’ ll check it down and take what the de­fence gives him. So it’s cool. He played a good game.”

It all came down to a kick by the ul­tra- re­li­able Tucker, some­thing the Ravens will take ev­ery time.

“The con­di­tions were not great,” Tucker said. “But be­ing able to come through for this team in that mo­ment is re­ally special.”

Said Har­baugh: “You wouldn’t rather have any­body else in that sit­u­a­tion. That field, that wind, that rain, all that stuff that was go­ing on there — that’s the guy you want in that sit­u­a­tion. I’m very grate­ful that we have him on Thanks­giv­ing week­end.”.

Quar­ter­back Ryan Fitz­patrick threw for 365 yards and three touch­downs and the Mi­ami Dol­phins scored 23 unan­swered points to up­set the vis­it­ing Philadel­phia Ea­gles 37-31 on Sun­day.

Fitz­patrick com­pleted 27- of- 39 passes and ral­lied the Dol­phins ( 3- 9) from a 28-14 deficit. Wide re­ceiver De­vante Parker had seven catches for a ca­reer-high 159 yards and two scores.

Philadel­phia quar­ter­back Car­son Wentz was 28- of46 for 310 yards and three touch­downs, but the Ea­gles dropped their third in a row and fell to 5-7.

EVAN HABEEB / USA TODAY SPORTS

Bal­ti­more Ravens kicker Justin Tucker cel­e­brates with team­mates af­ter mak­ing the game-win­ning field goal to beat the San Fran­cisco 49ers 20-17 at M&T Bank Sta­dium on Sun­day as two of the top teams in the NFL went toe to toe all af­ter­noon.

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