Up to the chal­lenge in dog­fight

Last-se­cond field goal beats 49ers as win streak hits 8

Baltimore Sun - - RAVENS - By Jonas Shaf­fer

Kicker Justin Tucker hit a 49-yard field goal as time ex­pired to lift the Ravens to a 20-17 vic­tory Sun­day over the San Fran­cisco 49ers, ex­tend­ing their win­ning streak to a fran­chise-record eight games.

In a matchup of Su­per Bowl con­tenders, quar­ter­back La­mar Jack­son strug­gled as a passer amid rainy con­di­tions at M&T Bank Sta­dium, fin­ish­ing 14-for-23 for 105 yards and a touch­down. But he had his fourth 100-yard rush­ing game this season (16 car­ries for 101 and a touch­down), and a key fourth-quar­ter push kept the Ravens’ de­ci­sive drive alive.

With the game-win­ning kick, Tucker has made 38 straight field-goal at­tempts in the fourth quar­ter, the long­est ac­tive streak in the NFL. It was his 14th ca­reer gamewin­ning field goal.

Like much of the game, it was a slog. It was also bold. Af­ter tak­ing over at their 35 with 6:28 re­main­ing, the Ravens got just 9 yards on their open­ing three plays. Sam Koch had pinned the 49ers deep with a pic­ture-per­fect punt ear­lier in the game. But coach John Har­baugh kept his of­fense on the field.

Lin­ing up un­der cen­ter, Jack­son found a hole be­hind right guard Mar­shal Yanda on a quar­ter­back sneak and found the yard he needed, plus an­other 2. Slowly but surely, they found their way into 49ers ter­ri­tory: a 2-yard run by Jack­son, a12-yard pass to tight end Mark An­drews, a10-yard com­ple­tion to tight end Hay­den Hurst. It ended at the 31-yard line, and the Ravens left the game in Tucker’s con­trol.

The Ravens fin­ished with 283 yards against San Fran­cisco’s elite de­fense, and just 4.6 yards per play. But the 49ers weren’t much bet­ter. Quar­ter­back Jimmy Garop­polo fin­ished 15-for-21 for just 165 yards and a touch­down, as San Fran­cisco re­lied more on its ground game (174 yards) to move the ball.

The se­cond half was a strug­gle for both sides. The Ravens were held score­less in the third quar­ter, the first time they’ve been blanked for a quar­ter since the open­ing 15 min­utes of their Week 11 blowout of the Hous­ton Tex­ans. The 49ers man­aged only a field goal.

Un­til late, de­fen­sive stands de­fined the fourth quar­ter. On fourth-and-5 from the 49ers’ 40, with the game tied at 17, Jack­son could not con­nect with An­drews. On the en­su­ing drive, the 49ers needed a yard at the Ravens’ 35 on fourth down. But they didn’t run the ball, and de­fen­sive end Chris Worm­ley de­flected a short pass to tight end Ge­orge Kittle.

San Fran­cisco be­came the first team to score against the Ravens on its open­ing drive this season, as rookie wide re­ceiver Deebo Sa­muel beat cor­ner­back Mar­cus Peters on a deep side­line throw on fourt­hand-1 for a 31-yard score.

In­stant anal­y­sis

Jonas Shaf­fer, re­porter: You can only learn so much about a team’s qual­ity in a blowout. The Ravens needed this win to keep pace in the race for home-field ad­van­tage and to prove that they could win when their of­fense isn’t fully func­tional.

Peter Sch­muck, colum­nist: The Ravens al­most met their match Sun­day, need­ing a long field goal as time ex­pired to win their eighth straight game and ex­tend an amaz­ing streak of vic­to­ries over the best teams in the NFL. Quar­ter­back La­mar Jack­son seemed to strug­gle with the el­e­ments at times, throw­ing sev­eral balls off tar­get, but he de­liv­ered an­other strong rush­ing per­for­mance and the Ravens de­fense came up with enough stops to neu­tral­ize Jimmy Garop­polo and a strong 49ers run­ning game. It wasn’t a blowout, but it was an­other big test, and the Ravens passed it. Now, it’s on to Buf­falo and an­other for­mi­da­ble op­po­nent.

Childs Walker, re­porter: Af­ter a long run of blowouts, the Ravens proved they could win a dog­fight against an op­po­nent that matched them in al­most ev­ery way. Justin Tucker re­minded us how valu­able he is as an ace in the hole in such sit­u­a­tions, hit­ting from 49 yards un­der mis­er­able con­di­tions to win the game. For the first time in more than two months, the Ravens had done to them what they’ve done to most op­po­nents this season. The 49ers ran at will on a rain-soaked field, us­ing shifty back Ra­heem Mostert to ex­ploit poor edge play by the Ravens’ out­side lineback­ers. La­mar Jack­son suf­fered through his worst pass­ing per­for­mance in re­cent mem­ory, miss­ing on a num­ber of short throws. The pour­ing rain was a fac­tor, but Jack­son’s op­po­site num­ber, Jimmy Garop­polo, threw far more pre­cisely. Jack­son was still ef­fec­tive as a run­ner, but the 49ers’ ul­tra-ath­letic de­fen­sive front proved the Ravens’ of­fense is not in­vin­ci­ble.

Sept. 8 @MIA Won

Sept. 15 ARI Won

Sept. 22 @KC Lost

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