After a day of family, friends and a great dinner, dessert was served and it was a slice of delicious offense and a big scoop of great defense. This game lived up to all the hype and then some. Rather you want to call it East vs West, Brother vs Brother, or even HarBowl, it will be remembered as a battle between two good defenses and a very well managed offense. In my opinion, what you witnessed was the blueprint of what a good game looks like. The best part was the fans were rewarded with a great holiday reward. Around Baltimore, everyone was talking about the game and the dinner was secondary. No matter who you were cheering for, you had to walk away thinking just how good the game was.
Jim Harbaugh came to town with his 49ers, with a swagger and a defined plan of attack. He came here knowing his team hadn't faced anything like the Ravens this season but he was up to the task. John Harbaugh knows his brother well, and knew that he would come here well prepared so he had to be one step better. John also knew that he has what every coach could only dream of having and that was an excellent defense. John knew if Joe Flacco and the offense was on its game then he could walk away with a win. With their Mom and Dad in town, every sports reporting agency, and all eyes of the world on this game the pressure was on. This game has been hyped up since the schedules were released and as each game went by, the more we heard about this battle between brothers. So each brother knew the pressure was on, and they both had to be at the top of their game. AND THEY WERE!
Both teams defense showed up to prove just how good they are. Both teams proved that rushing the ball would be at a minimum. Ray Rice and Frank Gore had a hard time running the ball so you knew that it would be up to the Quarterbacks to step up and win this game. Joe Flacco and Alex Smith at times both had challenges with throwing the ball. What I loved was the fact that the Ravens defense did what I wanted to see and thats pressure Alex Smith. They sacked him nine times tying a team record. He felt the pressure and really was limited in what he could do. I will eat a little bit of my words and say while I'm still not on the Alex Smith fan club, I will admit that he is not a Kyle Boller prototype, he is a step above that. While Alex Smith had his troubles, Joe Flacco had his as well but what I saw in Joe was a well managed win. Most importantly, Joe Flacco protected the ball and made good decisions when he had to pass. Although he did not throw for alot of yards, what he did was make quality throws to keep the offense moving down the field. I sat there watching the game and felt like a proud Dad watching his son play.
You have to love the defensive play from both teams. The 49ers defense is a beast and I see why they are ranked so high in the NFL. They refused to allow Ray Rice to run with any level of success. The 59 yards that Rice got on the ground was minimal but he got what he could to keep third downs manageable. The Ravens defense was without our emotional leader on the field but his presence was felt on the sidelines. Ray Lewis sat out of his second consecutive game due to a toe injury but the defense once again stepped up. The Ravens held the 49ers to a total of 170 yards. You could tell by watching the game that Alex Smith was not comfortable at all. Frank Gore was held to a total of 39 rushing yards and just was not able to have much success. The Ravens defense had their best game this season and this performance comes in second to their performance week one against the Steelers.
With the win the Ravens move on to a record of 8-3 and continue to make this run with destiny. As this week brings to a close of an emotional week for the Harbaugh family, there's no time to rest for either team. I must say though that I love the fact that there was never a moment of real sibling rivalry but just mutual love and respect for each other and the game. Any drama you think you may have seen was just theatrical promotion for this game. I dedicate this to Jack and Jackie Harbaugh on celebrating their 50th Anniversary today. Thank you for Harbaugh family for the memorable Thanksgiving Night. Go Ravens!!!