BALTIMORE – The Baltimore Ravens took over the No. 1 seed in the AFC on Dec. 1 thanks to a big win over the San Francisco 49ers and some help from the Houston Texans.
Justin Tucker kicked a 49-yard field goal as time ran out that gave the Ravens a 20-17 victory over the 49ers. Tucker booted the winning kick through the cold rain and swirling winds at M&T Bank Stadium, weather conditions that made everything tough all afternoon.
The victory stretched the Ravens’ winning streak to eight, and they improved to 10-2. New England lost to Houston later that night, and that dropped the Patriots to 10-2 also.
But if the two teams finish even, the Ravens would get the tiebreaker for the No. 1 spot in the AFC playoffs because they beat the Patriots in Baltimore earlier this season. The No. 1 spot is crucial because it means the Ravens would play all playoff games at home until the Super Bowl.
“Just a great win,” Baltimore Coach John Harbaugh said after the game. “They had a plan. It was obvious what the plan was, all three phases, and it was a gritty game. It’s a grit win for us, all three phases, and it’s definitely a team win.”
Quarterback Lamar Jackson did not do as much damage in this game, completing 14 of 23 for just 105 yards in terrible conditions that he said affected his throwing. The 49ers contained his dynamic running, limiting him to runs no longer than 14 yards but he still finished with 101 and is closing in on 1,000 for the season.
And on the game’s final drive, he made enough good plays to set up Tucker’s field goal. The Ravens control their destiny with four games remaining.
Caps make trade deal on West Coast swing
The Washington Capitals traded Chandler Stephenson to the Vegas Golden Knights for a fifth-round draft pick in 2021, the team announced on Dec. 2.
Stephenson’s trade was used to open up some salary cap space for Carl Hagelin’s return. The winger’s long-awaited return to the team ends soon since the Capitals took him off the long-term injured reserve. He played over 12 minutes in his first game back on Dec. 3 versus the San Jose Sharks.
He missed the past 11 games, and the Caps needed to make a move to get him back on the active roster. Stephenson helped during the Stanley Cup run and was a solid piece last season along with this year. Despite being a great contributor off the bench, Stephenson has been pushing for more playing time.
The game was against San Jose and part of a four-game road trip that began with a win in Detroit on Nov. 30 for their third straight victory.
Wizards return home but lose third straight game
After losing three games during a four-game road trip, the Washington Wizards looked poised to return to their winning ways on Dec. 3 as they hosted the Orlando Magic.
However, losing starting center Thomas Bryant to a stress reaction on his right foot before the game and adding another name to the injury reserve proved to be too much for the Wizards. Six Orlando players scored in double-figures as the Magic defeat Washington 127-120 at Capital One Arena.
Losing Bryant makes four players out due to injury for Washington (6-13), who were missing several members of their frontcourt rotation, including Moritz Wagner, C.J. Miles and Ian Mahinmi. The Wizards ran the majority of their offense through Bradley Beal, who scored a game-high 42 points while playing a season-high 42 minutes.
Beal and Davis Bertans led the Wizards a 21-6 run take a one-point lead in the third quarter. However, Orlando bounced back to go a 14-5 run of their own and recapture the lead by the fourth quarter that they never relinquished.
“They’re a long, athletic team, and I thought they made threes throughout the game, but they made timely ones as well,” Wizards Head Coach Scott Brooks said. “We fought, and we battled and we’re obviously shorthanded…I give our guys credit. They fought, and they battled.”
Evan Fournier scored 31 points and hit six 3-pointers for Orlando. Markelle Fultz, who attended DeMatha Catholic High School, finished the game with a career-high 20 points.