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Stock up, stock down; Ravens win streak extended to eight with 20-17 win over 49ers

Stock up, stock down; Ravens win streak extended to eight with 20-17 win over 49ers

BALTIMORE — The Ravens' winning streak reached eight on Sunday, as the Ravens beat the NFC-leading 49ers 20-17 in a wild finish at M&T Bank Stadium. 

Justin Tucker's 48-yard field goal clinched things.

Here are a few players whose stocks are up and down after the game in Baltimore.

(Click here to see what our friends in NBC Sports Bay Area wrote about the takeaways for the 49ers.)

Stock up: Justin Tucker

The NFL's best kicker did it again. 

When the Ravens needed Tucker, he delivered with a 48 yard field goal to give the Ravens a 20-17 win. 

In tough conditions, the kick wasn't a breeze for Tucker. But the Ravens made him the league's highest-paid kicker for a reason.

Stock up: Lamar Jackson’s legs

Lamar Jackson didn’t have the best day passing the ball, but the 49ers couldn’t figure out the run game as he kept them honest all afternoon.

He finished with 101 yards on 16 carries and a host of 49ers defenders left in his wake. 

San Francisco had trouble defending the read option all game, as Jackson pulled option after option for big gains. 

When the aeriel attack wasn’t working, he relied on the ground attack. 

Stock down: Run Defense

For the first time in many weeks, the Ravens run defense wasn’t up to par.

The 49ers ran at will, led by Raheem Mostert, to the tune of 146 yards on the ground and routinely controlled the clock. As a team, they rushed for 174 yards.

The Ravens defense entered Sunday allowing just 87.7 rushing yards per game.

It’ll be back to the drawing board for the Ravens defense, which didn’t play well for the first time in weeks.

Stock down: Jaylon Ferguson

Ferguson, who has been improving rapidly since the start of the season, had a setback on Sunday. 

He was sealed in on Mostert’s 40-yard touchdown run and had an offsides penalty on the last drive of the half for the 49ers, too. 

There's still room to grow for the rookie from Louisiana Tech.

Stock up: Chuck Clark

Chuck Clark again had a quiet game, but a good one, as he forced a fumble on Jimmy Garoppolo in the first quarter, which led to a Ravens touchdown to open their scoring. 

Clark had seven tackles, tied for a game-high, and played a solid role on the back-end for the entire afternoon. The Ravens used him as a linebacker in some situations, and were able to slide Brandon Carr back to safety.

Stock up: Mark Andrews

In addition to his touchdown celebration, Andrews had more reasons to celebrate. 

He tied the Ravens’ record for touchdowns by a tight end with seven, previously held by Dennis Pitta and Todd Heap.  His score also set the franchise mark for touchdowns in a single season (48).

Andrews finished with three catches for 50 yards and a score. While the passing attack wasn’t there for the Ravens, it wasn’t due to Andrews.

Stock down: Marcus Peters

Marcus Peters didn’t have his best day as a Raven. 

On the first drive of the game, he was beaten for a jump ball by Deebo Samuel, who scored the first touchdown of the game on the 49ers' first drive. 

Peters didn’t look good on Mostert’s 40-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, either, as his day was one to forget in Baltimore. 

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What lessons the rest of the NFL should, and shouldn’t, take from the league’s top rushing teams

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What lessons the rest of the NFL should, and shouldn’t, take from the league’s top rushing teams

A glance at the NFL over the final two months of the season gave an interesting glimpse where the league was headed. 

The Ravens, the NFL’s best offense, were a predominantly rushing team. They rushed for a league record 3,296 yards in the regular season and were the league’s top regular season team. 

The Titans rode running back Derrick Henry all season, which led to him finishing as the league’s leading rusher. Over the final nine games he rushed for an average of 24.6 carries per game, including 30 or more carries in three of the team’s final four games. 

And most recently, the 49ers won the NFC in dominating fashion over the Packers with just eight passing attempts and 42 rushing attempts. 

With a handful of the league’s best rushing teams advancing in the playoffs, there appeared to be a change in the way teams attacked defenses in the NFL.

But those stats have been a bit misleading for the crowd that wants to establish the run for the sake of establishing a ground attack. What the Ravens and Titans did was make rushing the football more efficient than any other team in the league. 

Baltimore rushed for 5.5 yards per carry in the regular season, half-a-yard more than any other team in the league. They were only one of three teams to surpass the five yard-mark — one other team was the Titans. 

When compared to passing stats across the league, however, none of the qualified quarterbacks had worse than a six-yard average when passing the ball. Speaking strictly from the numbers, passing is still more advantageous than rushing the ball, no matter what teams that advanced far in the playoffs accomplished. 

What the Ravens and Titans do have, however, are two athletes that are unique in the NFL. Lamar Jackson was the league’s best rushing quarterback of all time and Henry led the league in total rushing yards. 

So the Ravens and Titans didn’t reinvent the wheel and show the NFL the ground game was more effective, but instead showed the league to lean into the special talents that both teams had. 

While the Titans were clearly better when Henry had his best days on the ground, there’s not a direct relationship to more Henry touches equaling a better day for the Titans. 

When the Ravens fell behind 14-0 to the Titans, Henry had just seven rushes for 28 yards on the ground. Down the stretch, he rushed 23 more times for 167 yards — a 7.26 yard average. Essentially, the Titans used Henry most effectively when they had already scored the winning points. 

The same can be said for the 49ers in the NFC Championship, who barely used Jimmy Garoppolo's arm. But when Raheem Mostert averages more than seven yards per carry, it’s difficult to get away from the run. 

So while it might seem that simply running the ball got teams to the playoffs, and championship games, it was the fact that they were able to run the ball more efficiently than other teams across the league. Rushing attempts weren’t the reason those teams won, but how they used those rushing attempts instead.

And when Jackson and Henry are leading the charge, it’s hard not to give them the ball.

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Former Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees announces retirement

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Former Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees announces retirement

Former Ravens and Titans defensive coordinator Dean Pees announced his retirement from coaching Monday afternoon, just a day after Tennessee lost in the AFC Championship Game to Kansas City.

Pees, at age 70, had just finished his 47th year of coaching. He had previously been a coordinator for the Titans, Ravens and Patriots at the NFL level. He began coaching at the University of Findlay (OH) in 1979 as a defensive coordinator where he rose through the college ranks. 

Pees was in Baltimore from 2010-2017, where he started as a linebackers coach and was promoted to defensive coordinator in 2012. He won Super Bowl XLVII with the Ravens.

During his time as a coordinator, the Ravens ranked in the top 10 of scoring defenses three times, where he saw franchise greats like Ray Lewis and Ed Reed end their careers.

Pees’ defense in Tennessee this season stiffened down the stretch, as it allowed just 25 total points in the first two playoff games against New England and Baltimore. The Titans lost 35-24 to the Chiefs on Sunday.

In 10 of his 12 seasons as a defensive coordinator in the NFL, Pees led his defenses to a top 12 finish in points allowed.

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