John Harbaugh: A Major Statement vs. 49ers

The Baltimore Ravens entered their Week 16 matchup with the San Francisco 49ers knowing it was one of the biggest regular season games in recent memory. Both teams had 11 wins and were battling for the top seed in the AFC and NFC respectively. However, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh felt his team had a chip on their shoulder due to a perceived lack of respect from the national media and analysts.

“I think our guys really wanted to make a statement,” Harbaugh said in his postgame press conference (source). “Everybody wants to be respected. There’s one way to be respected, and that’s to go out there and earn that.”

The Ravens came out firing on all cylinders, building a 20-0 lead by halftime that the 49ers were never able to fully overcome. Lamar Jackson turned in a virtuoso performance, throwing for 252 yards and 2 touchdowns while adding 45 rushing yards (source). His play strengthened his case as the frontrunner for MVP.

“Lamar delivered an MVP performance today,” Harbaugh stated in his postgame press conference. “He showed why he’s the best player in the league. I’m just proud to be his coach.”

While the 49ers mounted a second half comeback, cutting the lead to 26-19 late in the 4th quarter, Harbaugh felt his team’s ability to respond showed their mettle. A late touchdown pass from Jackson to tight end Isaiah Likely put the game away, securing a 33-19 victory.

“Our guys stepped up when it mattered most,” Harbaugh said. “We made the plays we needed to close it out. That’s the sign of a championship caliber team.”

The win not only gave the Ravens the all-important #1 seed in the AFC, but also sent a message to the rest of the league, according to Harbaugh. As he told his players in the locker room postgame, “We just beat the best team in the NFC. That’s a major statement.”

Wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. echoed that sentiment, calling it “a statement game” (source). Now at 12-3 and in control of the top spot, Harbaugh believes his Ravens have proven they are Super Bowl contenders.

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