SANTA CLARA, Calif. — The Baltimore Ravens intercepted San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy four times and used a 17-point third quarter blitz to pull away to a 33-19 victory Monday night at Levi’s Stadium.
Baltimore moved to an NFL-best 12-3, using two quick third-quarter touchdowns to turn a 16-12 halftime lead into a decisive 30-12 advantage. Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson made an MVP statement against the 49ers (11-4), throwing for 252 yards and two touchdown passes while adding 45 yards on the ground. Sam Darnold rallied the 49ers to a fourth-quarter touchdown after replacing an injured Purdy, but it was too little, too late.
The Ravens made it clear who the best team — and best player — in the NFL is right now.
In what was a battle between the top two teams, Jackson staked his claim to his second NFL MVP award by weaving around 49ers pass-rushers and throwing for 252 yards and two touchdown passes. He outshined Purdy, his 49ers counterpart who entered as the betting favorite for NFL MVP.
Baltimore, which has the NFL’s best record, can clinch the AFC’s No. 1 seed with a win over the Miami Dolphins on Sunday. With their fifth straight win, the Ravens have a 72% chance to win the AFC’s top spot, according to ESPN Analytics.
The Ravens said last week that they felt “disrespected” by being underdogs for the second time this season, and they made a statement on both sides of the ball. Baltimore recorded five interceptions — its most in a single game since 2007 — and scored on seven straight drives, which was its longest streak since 2019.
QB breakdown: After a ragged first half, Jackson looked like the NFL MVP in a perfect third quarter. He was 6-of-6 for 121 yards and two touchdowns as Baltimore put up 17 points in the first three drives of the second half and blew open a close game. Jackson continued to shine in prime time. He’s 5-2 on “Monday Night Football,” producing 17 total touchdowns and no interceptions. Jackson also improved to 20-1 against the NFC, which is the best record by any quarterback vs. the opposing conference since the 1970 merger.
Buy a breakout performance: Safety Kyle Hamilton. He displayed the All-Pro form he’s shown all season to a national television audience with two interceptions in the first half — matching the combined total from his first 30 career games. His first one in the end zone ended San Francisco’s promising first drive. Hamilton’s second came after he got chop-blocked by Christian McCaffrey and had an offensive lineman land on top of him. He got up to catch a deflected pass by Purdy, who recorded his first four-interception game of his 24-game career.
Hamilton received a scare when he went down with a right knee injury in the fourth quarter. He did not re-enter the game but remained on the sideline after coming out of the medical tent, which could be encouraging news for the Ravens going forward.
Troubling trend: The Ravens were called for their third safety of the season, which is the most in the NFL and the most in a single season in franchise history. None, though, were as bizarre as the one Monday night. On Baltimore’s second drive of the game, Jackson eluded 49ers pass-rushers but not the official. Jackson tripped over umpire Alex Moore, who had lost his balance and fallen to the ground, before flipping the ball away in the end zone. He was called for intentional grounding, and that gave San Francisco its first points of the game. — Jamison Hensley
Next game: vs. Dolphins (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)
San Francisco 49ers
All week, the 49ers’ Monday night showdown against the Ravens was hailed as a Super Bowl preview.
Instead, for the Niners, it offered a sobering reminder that getting to the NFL’s grandest stage doesn’t come easy and if they are going to do so, they’re going to have to eliminate the kind of costly mistakes they piled up in the lopsided loss. Facing the best opponent they’ve seen yet, the Niners played the type of error-filled game that no team — no matter how good — can overcome.
The Ravens punished the Niners for their five turnovers, converting those into 17 points. Purdy had the worst game of his young career, throwing a career high four interceptions from which the Niners could not recover. And, as if Purdy’s struggles weren’t enough, the Niners lost All-Pro left tackle Trent Williams to a groin injury and amassed 10 penalties for 102 yards.
It was San Francisco’s worst performance of the season, and though the Ravens certainly played their part in that, it leaves the Niners with plenty of questions over the final two weeks. The 49ers can still wrap up the No. 1 seed in the NFC by winning their final two games — at the Washington Commanders and home against the red-hot Los Angeles Rams — or with a win and some help.
Pivotal play: With 12:07 left in the third quarter, Purdy threw a short pass to his left intended for McCaffrey. But Purdy’s arm was hit, the pass was nowhere close and it went right into the hands of Ravens linebacker Patrick Queen.
The score was already 23-12 Baltimore, so the game wasn’t hanging in the balance at the time, but it was pivotal because of what it meant for Williams. Williams hustled to tackle Queen and prevent a pick-six, but moments after the play, Williams headed to the blue medical tent. It was announced shortly after that he suffered a groin injury and was questionable to return. He did not re-enter the game.
There may be no more important player on the Niners, and losing Williams for any length of time is a significant blow to a team that hasn’t lost this season when he’s started and finished a game healthy.
QB breakdown: The Ravens’ defense gave Purdy trouble all night, especially in the first half, as he threw three interceptions in the opening 30 minutes. He added another interception in the second half to finish with four. He was knocked out of the game with a stinger in the fourth quarter, as Darnold finished the game.
Monday was the first four-interception game of Purdy’s career, and he’s the only player to throw three picks in a first half this season. Purdy ended the worst game of his career 18-of-32 for 255 yards with no touchdowns for a passer rating of 42.6. His MVP candidacy likely came to an end in the process.
Eye-popping stat: McCaffrey posted another big night, finishing with 131 scrimmage yards and one touchdown. It’s McCaffrey’s eighth straight game with 100-plus scrimmage yards, surpassing Roger Craig and Frank Gore for the franchise record. It’s also McCaffrey’s 11th game over 100 scrimmage yards this season, which is also a Niners record. — Nick Wagoner
Next game: at Commanders (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)