Some people might love a 27-24 first half, but I love games like this.
Games where the play is physical, every hit is delivered with a thud and every point is well-earned.
Here are a few quick-hit notes on the first half of play with the Ravens holding a 6-3 lead at the break:
- This game is the epitome of a defensive struggle. The two teams have combined to record a total of just 210 yards so far, and have each gone only 1-of-6 on third downs.
- I just don't understand the play-calling when the Ravens had the ball inside the 49ers' five-yard line late in the second quarter. Baltimore had gotten three straight positive gains (nine, two and three yards) running between the tackles, and had the ball at the San Francisco half-yard line.
Instead of busting it up the gut yet again, the Ravens had Ray Rice bounce one out wide to the right, and he was brought down for a three-yard loss. A busted quarterback sneak followed on third down, and the Ravens had to settle for a frustrating field goal.
- We've seen two questionable calls so far tonight, with one benefitting each team. The Ravens caught a major break when 49ers running back Frank Gore was flagged for a chop block, negating a 75-yard touchdown pass to Ted Ginn Jr. The infraction appeared borderline at best. San Francisco then got a break (albeit a smaller one) just minutes later when Lardarius Webb's 25-yard punt return was called back because of a nonexistent block in the back penalty called on tight end Kris Wilson. Those two flags have helped keep this a low-scoring game thus far.
- The Ravens must have seen something on tape when studying the 49ers' defense, as they've consistently attacked that group up the seam on slant and post routes. If I'm not mistaken, all four of the Ravens' completions to their wide receivers have come on such routes over the middle.
- Baltimore's pass rush has been studly - yes, studly - tonight, recording four sacks through the first two quarters of play. The front-seven has put in work in the running game, as well, holding Frank Gore to just 21 yards on nine carries.
- He's only had three catches for 29 yards so far tonight, but 49ers tight end Vernon Davis is an absolute beast. The former Maryland product is built like a defensive end, but has the athleticism of a wide receiver. He really impresses me in person.
- With Albert McClellan starting in place of Ray Lewis at inside linebacker tonight, the Ravens had two undrafted rookies in their starting lineup on the defensive side of the ball - McClellan and Jameel McClain.