Inside the Ravens with Aaron Wilson

Monday, October 8, 2007

5 Reasons For Outcome: Ravens @ 49ers

1. The Baltimore Ravens engineered an epic escape, surviving with a 9-7 victory over the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday at Monster Park largely because of their defense being stout enough to overcome the offense's ineptitude. For the majority of the game, the Ravens (3-2) dominated former Super Bowl quarterback Trent Dilfer and his teammates with the exception of one touchdown drive where they overplayed their hand with blitz packages. Baltimore limited the 49ers to six first downs, 163 yards of total offense and 49 net rushing yards while Ed Reed intercepted Dilfer once and the front seven sacked him three times. Star running back Frank Gore was visibly frustrated, held to 52 yards on 16 carries. The Ravens manufactured this West Coast win despite not scoring a touchdown as they won with their lowest point total since their inaugural season in 1996.

2. Matt Stover booted three field goals, a kicking performance akin to how he carried the Ravens' sleepwalking offense during the team's run to the Super Bowl seven years ago. Stover connected on kicks from 26, 32 and 49 yards, actually notching the game-winning kick with 8:12 remaining in the third quarter.

3. Although the Ravens remain one of the league's worst red-zone offenses, going 0-for-2 with no touchdowns inside the 49ers' 20-yard line, they did move the football consistently behind running back Willis McGahee, who gained 88 yards on 22 carries, and wide receiver Derrick Mason's efforts. Mason caught 11 passes for 85 yards. Quarterback Steve McNair wasn't particularly sharp, but he did avoid committing a turnover for the first time this season and completed 29 of 43 passes for 214 yards. His longest throw was just 18 yards.

4. With two starting offensive lineman injured and unable to return -- right tackle Adam Terry sprained his left ankle and center Mike Flynn sprained his right knee during the Ravens' first scoring drive in the second quarter -- the Ravens got a prolonged glimpse of their blocking future. From left to right, rookie tackle Jared Gaither, 21, third-year guard Jason Brown, 24, second-year center-guard Chris Chester, 24, rookie first-round guard Ben Grubbs, 23, and rookie tackle Marshal Yanda, 22, didn't allow a sack.

5. In a 3rd-and-9 situation at the Ravens' 36-yard line with 2:44 remaining, the 49ers sent Gore up the middle for two yards instead of attempting a pass to try to get kicker Joe Nedney closer for a potential game-winning field goal. His 52-yard attempt on the ensuing play sailed wide to the right. It was Nedney’s first miss this season in eight tries.

Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital

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