Clifton Brown. BaltimoreRavens.com
Baltimore Defense Is Making a Big Splash
How many people expected the Ravens to have five interceptions, including four against Brock Purdy? If Purdy wins the Most Valuable Player award after this game, ballots need to be checked.
Kyle Hamilton had two picks and there’s no denying that he has become a star player. In the first quarter, the second-year safety made a perfect read as Deebo Samuel ran a crossing pattern near the end zone. As soon as Purdy threw the ball, a pass that was intended for Samuel became a throw that was destined to be picked off by Hamilton.
Hamilton’s second interception may have been his most impressive, because it displayed his determination to play all-out until the whistle. He was knocked flat on his face after a chop block by 49ers offensive lineman Aaron Banks, but instead of giving up on the play, Hamilton got up and caught a Purdy pass that was deflected by Marlon Humphrey.
Brandon Stephens forced another Purdy turnover by leaping to deflect a quick screen pass intended for Samuel, which was caught by Humphrey, and Patrick Queen’s interception in the third quarter set up a 9-yard touchdown pass from Jackson to Zay Flowers that gave Baltimore a 30-12 lead in the third quarter. Marcus Williams sealed the Ravens’ win with an end zone interception in the final minutes against Sam Darnold, after Purdy was pulled from the game due to a reported stinger injury.
Considering Purdy had only been intercepted seven times coming into the game, the Ravens’ performance was even more impressive.
Grant Gordon, NFL.com
Lamar emerges atop MVP conversation. The AFC’s top team facing the NFC’s elite was hardly the only marquee headline leading into Monday night’s game, as MVP candidates Lamar Jackson, Christian McCaffrey and Purdy shared the field. Purdy had a nightmarish four-INT evening, McCaffrey was excellent in the shadow of a loss and it was Jackson who emerged standing tall. Jackson has for so long put up eye-popping numbers, but 2023 has been different. Jackson, who had 252 passing yards, a pair of TD throws and a team-high 45 rushing yards, has piloted the AFC’s top team to a 12-3 record, making dazzling plays with his arm and legs, alike. They haven’t added up to overwhelming statistical bliss, but they’ve dropped jaws just the same and now the best player on the NFL’s best team has concluded Week 16 as the MVP frontrunner.
Next Gen stat of the game. Niners quarterbacks Brock Purdy (32 dropbacks) and Sam Darnold (14) were pressured on 47.1% and 64.7% of their dropbacks, respectively, by the Ravens.
NFL Research: The Ravens have scored 20-plus points in nine consecutive games – the longest active streak in the NFL – and are 12-1 this season when scoring 20-plus points.
Mike Preston, The Baltimore Sun
The 49ers came into the game with the best linebacking corps in the NFL, but the Ravens blocked them and their defensive line well. San Francisco had only two sacks and four quarterback pressures. Offensive tackles Morgan Moses and Ronnie Stanley, who have struggled in recent weeks, were solid, and the Ravens got good movement on initial contact on running plays by guards Kevin Zeitler and John Simpson. The Ravens finished with 343 yards of total offense and won the line of scrimmage. Grade: B+
San Francisco running back Christian McCaffrey had 103 yards on 14 carries but didn’t dominate or control the tempo of the game. Part of the reason is that the 49ers came out throwing the ball, which was a mistake, and then the Ravens started dominating the line of scrimmage from midway through the second quarter until the end of the game. McCaffrey couldn’t run outside the tackles on toss plays. Justin Madubuike had four tackles and fellow end Brent Urban had two sacks. Grade: B
Jamison Hensley, ESPN
In a battle of the teams with the best records in the league, Jackson took control of the MVP race by resoundingly out-dueling 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy. Weaving around the 49ers pass-rushers all game, Jackson threw for 252 yards and two touchdowns while leading Baltimore in rushing with 45 yards. Purdy, meanwhile, threw a career-worst four interceptions.
Entering Monday night, Purdy was the betting favorite for NFL MVP and Jackson was second, according to ESPN BET. After the game, Jackson became the frontrunner for MVP (-180) with two weeks remaining in the regular season.
“He can do everything,” Ravens wide receiver Zay Flowers said. “You [saw] it [Monday night]. He ran it; he threw it; he led the team. That’s the MVP. You lead your team, you have the best record in the NFL, and he just comes out and continues to come out and do what he [does] game in and game out even though people [say], ‘He can’t do this. He can’t do that,’ and he comes out and proves them wrong every time.”
“I think if anybody watched the game [or] if anybody watches football this season and watched the Baltimore Ravens, they know for a fact [that] Lamar Jackson is the MVP, hands down,” Ravens middle linebacker Roquan Smith said. “Anyone that watches football and knows football and [can] see the type of impact he has on the game — not even stat-wise, but just individually, the plays that he makes quarter in and quarter out, play in and play out — compare his film to anyone else in the league. Then, I would love to hear what anyone else has to say after that.”
NFL Week 16 grades: Raiders earn ‘A-’ for shocking Christmas win over Chiefs, 49ers get ‘D’ in loss to Ravens
John Breech, CBS Sports
The Ravens put the NFL on notice in what was a wildly impressive road win to inch them one step closer to locking up the No. 1 seed in the AFC. The defense is what continues to be the backbone of Baltimore’s stellar season and the unit tallied five turnovers in the win, including four interceptions off of Brock Purdy. They stifled one of the hottest offenses in the NFL and proved that they can go into a hectic playoff environment and come away with a win. Meanwhile, Lamar Jackson may have put himself in the lead for the MVP award with his performance. He gave the Niners defense fits with his legs and was extremely efficient throwing the football, logging a 105.9 passer rating.