The Baltimore Ravens (12-3) played the Grinch role in Santa Clara on Christmas night by beating their hosts, the San Francisco 49ers, 33-19, while making a statement about where things stand in the AFC and the NFL as a whole as the Flock is now the only team with 12 wins over the regular season.
The victory also helped Lamar Jackson become the favorite to win his second MVP award as he was north-and-south better than then-favorite 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy on Monday. Jackson finished the game with 252 passing yards and 45 more on the ground, throwing a couple of touchdowns against no interceptions.
The problem for Jackson and the Ravens, however, was a shaky start to the game that made things more difficult than they should have been and that also inspired a few conspiracy theories. Was the NFL trying to use their referees to trip Baltimore up, literally? Judge by yourself.
While Jackson was nearly flawless, if you check the game's box score you'll find a safety called against Baltimore in the first quarter. Well, it was Jackson who was caught by San Francisco's Chase Young after the quarterback tripped over umpire Alex Moore, who had fallen in the end zone.
The play resulted in intentional grounding and the subsequent safety, giving two free points to the Niners early. Jackson, however, removed all imaginative sides from the action by stating the obvious while explaining what had happened on the field, putting an end to all types of conspiracies.
"The ref fell. He fell, but he came back and apologized. He was like, ‘My bad,’ but it’s all good. Those two points helped [the San Francisco 49ers] out a lot."- Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens QB
"The ref fell. He fell, but he came back and apologized," Jackson told reporters. "He was like, ‘My bad,’ but it’s all good. Those two points helped [the San Francisco 49ers] out a lot," the quarterback added.
The safety was the Ravens' third of the season, the most in the NFL, and a franchise record in a single campaign. As bizarre as the play was, the Ravens recovered smoothly and put the Niners to the sword in a ruthless way, beating them without leaving a lot of (if any) doubts about who's best in the NFL.
Should the Ravens get another win on Sunday in their matchup against the Miami Dolphins, they would get their sixth consecutive win of the season and clinch the No. 1 seed in the AFC. If they lose, however, they will need to match the result of the Browns in Week 18 to win the AFC North.