Ravens conquer in Super Bowl
It’s funny to think that the final offensive play for the Super Bowl-winning Baltimore Ravens was their punter madly scrambling around the end zone, trying to avoid a hit in order to run out the clock before taking the inevitable safety to stop the game. But that final play perfectly summed up the this game for Baltimore, going up 28–6 before a 34 minute power outage at the start of the third quarter robbed them of their momentum and allowed the 49ers to mount a feverish comeback, falling just short on a controversial fourth down in the end zone with under two minutes to play. The final score, 34–31, was much closer than the rest of the game. But the game, which seemed to be a sealed deal for the Ravens after their receiver Jacoby Jones returned a 108-yard kickoff for a touchdown, turned into a nail biter after the 49ers mounted at 28–6 comeback following the power outage.
The Ravens came out and dominated the 49ers in the first half, with quarterback Joe Flacco connecting with receivers Anquan Boldin, Dennis Pitta and Jones for his three touchdown passes. They tried, even trying for a fake field goal when they were already up by 11, and made the most of two 49ers turnovers, a fumble by running back LaMichael James, and a thrown interception by quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
Following Beyonce’s stunning halftime show with Destiny’s Child, Jones returned the kickoff to start the second half and it seemed the Ravens had put the game out of reach. But the Mercedes-Benz Superdome had other ideas, when half of the lights in the stadium suddenly went out due to a power surge. After a 34-minute delay where the players were forced to stay on the field and remain warmed up, play finally resumed with the 49ers facing a third down and 13 yards.
By the time the Ravens’ offense finally regained the field, 84 real-time minutes had passed since they last touched the ball, before halftime and the power outage. That time off really disrupted the first-half rhythm Flacco had with his receivers and forced the Ravens to punt on their first two possessions after the outage and succumb to a fumble by running back Ray Riceon their third. The 49ers strung together four straight scoring drives after they punted immediately following the outage. Kaepernick scored touchdowns both with his legs and with his arm on a touchdown pass to receiver Michael Crabtree, and running back Frank Gore added one on the ground.
Flacco did finally managed to wake up his offensive leading them on back to back drives of 71 and 59 yards. But each time came up short, settling one for two Justin Tucker field goals. This all culminated with Kaepernick and the 49ers getting the ball back with just over four minutes remaining, down by five, needing a touchdown to take the lead. Kaepernick then threw three incomplete passes to Crabtree, burning a timeout after nearly taking a delay of game penalty.
On fourth down, the 49ers blitzed and got immediate pressure on Kaepernick to just toss up the ball in Crabtree’s direction. Jimmy Smith, the Ravens cornerback on the play, appeared to grab and hold Crabtree after the ball was in the air, but the referees didn’t throw the flag for holding or pass interference, making the pass incomplete.
This made it dificult for the Ravens’ punter, Sam Koch, who was in the end zone with 12 seconds left on fourth down before taking the eventual safety that sealed the game. This was after 49ers receiver Ted Ginn Jr. harmlessly returned the punt just past midfield as time expired both on the game and the NFL season.
In the end, all of the built-up story lines did not matter anymore. Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, finished an outstanding 17-year career with another Super Bowl, and Raven’s Coach John Harbaugh defeated his younger brother Jim in the matchup of head-coaching brothers. The game belonged to Joe Flacco, who was awarded the MVP for his three-touchdown, no-interception performance.
Coming into his final season before free agency, Flacco called himself an elite quarterback much to chagrin of the Raven faithful who routinely blamed him for their team’s playoff woes, but this season established both him, and the Ravens as the crème de la crème of the NFL.