Often, Thanksgiving is about eating too much.
Such was the case Thursday night in Baltimore when the Ravens’ blitzing defense feasted on San Francisco, sacking Alex Smith nine times – tying a franchise record – in a 16-6 victory in the first duel of sibling head coaches in the NFL.
In the end, John Harbaugh’s Baltimore defense – even without injured star linebacker Ray Lewis – was too much for Jim Harbaugh’s 49ers offense in the so-called “Harbowl.”
The Niners couldn’t protect Smith and the result was San Francisco’s first loss in nine games. After four straight successful East Coast trips this season, with wins over the Bengals, Eagles, Lions and Redskins, the 49ers (now 9-2) met their match in Baltimore (8-3)
When the game came to an end, the two Harbaughs met, exchanged kind words and embraced at midfield.
But during the game, there was no brotherly love shown by the Ravens.
Linebacker Terrell Suggs had three sacks, defensive end Cory Redding had 2½ and defensive tackle Haloti Ngata added two more as the Ravens harassed Smith from start to finish. Smith completed 15-of-24 throws for 140 yards, with one interception and no TDs.
The game was tied 6-6 when Joe Flacco’s 8-yard throw to tight end Dennis Pitta on the first play of the fourth quarter produced the game’s only touchdown. The touchdown concluded a 16-play, 76-yard drive that ate up 7:34. On the drive Flacco was 4-for-4 on third-down plays.
Following the Ravens touchdown drive, the 49ers offense couldn’t generate any momentum. On San Francisco’s next two possessions, it went 3-and-out.
Then, after Baltimore tacked on a 39-yard field goal by Billy Cundiff with 3:14 to go in the game to go up 16-6, the 49ers converted one fourth-down opportunity, but then failed on their second, turning the ball – and the game – over to the Ravens with 1:18 remaining.
After a short turnaround from Sunday’s victory over Arizona to Thursday night’s loss in Baltimore, the 49ers will have a few extra days to get ready for their next game Sunday, Dec. 4, against the Rams at Candlestick Park.