The annotated WPA Graph for Harbaugh-Bowl is shown above. The graph is taken from NFL Advanced Stats, while the annotations are ours. The biggest play in terms of WPA for the game came with 6:15 remaining in the 2nd Quarter. Joe Flacco dropped back looking for Torrey Smith and was intercepted by Tarell Brown at SF 10. The play was immediately overturned, as Brown was flagged for pass interference resulting in a 50 yd. penalty that culminated in a field goal and a 6-3 Baltimore lead. The play increased the Ravens odds of winning by 10% pushing them from a 54% chance of winning to 64%. The Flacco to Pitta TD made the game comfortable as The Ravens entered the 4th Quarter with their best chance of winning (76%). From there the defense took over and the offense effectively ran out the clock securing the win.
The main take aways from this game can be put pretty succinctly. (More after the break.)
- Ravens offensive line is significantly better than the 49ers offensive line. Football Outsiders noted the following about the 49ers O-line: “I’m wondering what the record for number of blown blocks on one sack“, “Boy, the 49ers are having a rough time dealing with the zone blitz tonight.“, “It is embarrassing that the 49ers couldn’t even block four Baltimore pass rushers using an eight-man max protect” and “Understatement of the century: San Francisco’s Adjusted Sack Rate is going to take a hit this week“.
- Both the Ravens and 49ers have very good defenses. The Ravens dropped 9 sacks on Alex Smith and kept the 49ers out of the end zone. Meanwhile 49ers rush defense kept the Ravens out of the end zone. The 49ers have not allowed a rushing touchdown in twelve games and haven’t allowed a 100-yard rusher in 33 games. The eleven games without allowing a rushing touchdown this season ties the record to start a season, set by the 49ers and and Browns in 1992. The 33-game streak is third since the start of 2000, behind the Ravens (39) and Vikings (36).
- Joe Flacco is a better QB than Alex Smith. Baltimore’s pressure seemed to make Smith revert to old habits. Rather than hitting open receivers when he was supposed to, Smith scrambled around before attempting to deliver the ball. 9 sacks resulted. Remember this the next time Flacco goes south, it could be worse.