Baltimore Ravens all-pro kicker Justin Tucker booted a 49-yard field goal to knock off the San Francisco 49ers at a rainy M&T Stadium.
After a fast start offensively for both teams in the first half that led to a 17-14 Ravens lead at halftime, both defenses settled in.
Only six points were scored in the second half – in part thanks to stingy defense and weather that rendered each passing game rather useless. 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo threw for 165 yards and a touchdown; while MVP candidate Lamar Jackson finished with 105 yards passing and one touchdown toss.
San Francisco stayed in the game in second half after forcing the first fumble of the season by Jackson.
However, with the game tied at 17 with just under seven minutes remaining, arguably the game’s most important sequence took place.
The 49ers faced a 4th and 1 from the Baltimore 35. Head coach Kyle Shanahan opted to go for it. Then, 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo threw an incomplete pass to tight end George Kittle. The 49ers never got the ball back.
Baltimore went right down the field over the final six minutes plus to setup Tucker’s game-winning field goal.
The Ravens improve to 10-2 and are alive and well in the race for home-field advantage. They trail New England by just one game and hold the tiebreaker over New England by virtue of their head-to-head victory over the Patriots in late October.
Now, the 10-2 49ers are in a weird spot. They visit the New Orleans Saints next Sunday in a game that not only could determine who grabs home-field advantage in the NFC playoffs but also could help decide who wins the NFC West.
With games against the Falcons and Rams to follow, it is quite likely the NFC West title (and at least a first-round bye) could be determined on December 29 when the Seahawks host the 49ers.
If they aren’t careful, San Francisco’s great start could still land them on wild-card weekend.