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John Eisenberg: It was all about the Harbaugh boys coming in, but the Ravens’ defense stole the spotlight with a memorable performance, sacking 49ers quarterback Alex Smith nine times and seldom giving him time to set and throw. The 49ers’ defense was impressive in its own right and kept the game in doubt, but the Ravens only needed a modest offensive output on a night when their defense was so stifling. Joe Flacco was more than up to the task, looking like a veteran as he patiently hit a variety of receivers and moved the chains on drives that produced a touchdown and field goal in the fourth quarter. I’m sure the 49ers would love to have a rematch without having to travel across the country on a short week, but they got thumped here. The Ravens had their coach’s back, giving John some serious familial bragging rights.
Ryan Mink: This game seemed to mirror the Harbaugh brothers themselves. It was defensively driven and hard-fought. But in the end, the Ravens were more clutch on offense and more explosive on defense. Baltimore battered 49ers quarterback Alex Smith all game, tying a single-game franchise record with nine sacks. The offense broke through when it needed to on a surgical drive at the end of the third quarter and a difference-making 8-yard touchdown pass from Joe Flacco to Dennis Pitta. It didn’t come in the final minutes like Pittsburgh, but that was a signature drive for this offense. Baltimore halted San Francisco’s eight-game win streak and in the process kept their head coach the big brother.
Garrett Downing: The Ravens were dominant in this one, showing the kind of football they are capable of playing and putting forth arguably their best defensive performance since their victory over the Jets. San Francisco quarterback Alex Smith was harassed all night long and never able to get comfortable, which made life tough for the 49ers offense. This victory shows what Baltimore can do when they put a complete game together, and by beating a one-loss 49ers team, the Ravens will be right back in the conversation with the best teams in the NFL.
Sarah Ellison: Somewhere Jack and Jackie Harbaugh are both celebrating John’s win and lamenting Jim’s loss. As expected, this was a hard-fought, defensive clash and it will be Alex Smith who wakes up tomorrow with the biggest aches. Smith was absolutely beat up by the Ravens’ front seven, which sacked him a franchise record (tied) nine times. It also kept the physical Frank Gore to just 39 yards rushing. All that without veteran leader Ray Lewis. The only touchdown of the game, and the first touchdown of Dennis Pitta’s career, gave the Ravens the momentum and they never let San Francisco back in the contest from there. What will make Terrell Suggs happier: his three sacks or the offensive pass to rush ratio (23 passes, 35 rushes)? Running is sure easier when you have a lead. The Ravens will have 10 days to savor this one while resting up for another divisional showdown against the Cleveland Browns.