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49ers vs. Ravens a battle of elite defenses

  • (l to r) Patrick Willis, Joe Staley and Carlos Rogers stop Colt McCoy after a short gain. The 49ers beat the Cleveland Browns, 201-10, on Sunday, October 30, 2011.

SANTA CLARA — The 49ers and Baltimore Ravens each have scored 256 points this season.

When it comes to similarities, however, their scoreboard-stingy defenses are what make Thanksgiving's game in Baltimore so appetizing.

Well, that and something about Harbaugh brothers coaching the teams.

"You look at what's going on over there (with the 49ers) and it kind of reminds us of our own defense," Ravens running back Ray Rice said.

Who's got a better defense? That's like pulling a turkey's wishbone on Thanksgiving.

Statistics side with the 49ers, who've parlayed their defensive dominance into an eight-game win streak and 9-1 record. They're allowing the league's fewest points (14.5 per game) and rushing yards (73.9).

Defense, however, has been the Ravens' hallmark for over a decade, highlighted by the 2000 team's record-setting efforts en route to Super Bowl XXXV. This season's version ranks third in points allowed (17.6) and fifth in rushing yards (93.2).

The Ravens' defense looked vulnerable Sunday, allowing 483 yards in a 31-24 win over the Cincinnati Bengals. Two months earlier, the 49ers yielded 228 yards in a 13-8 victory at Cincinnati.

Ravens 16th-year linebacker Ray Lewis missed Sunday's game with a toe injury, ending his streak of 57 consecutive starts. His status is uncertain for today. He issued a statement before Tuesday's practice, stating he wants to play and is making progress.

Regardless of Lewis' availability, 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman said the Ravens are a team with no shortage of defensive talent. "It's an awesome, exciting challenge," Roman added.


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