There we have it. Superbowl XLVII is in the books and it was the Baltimore Ravens who picked up the Lombardi Trophy after another fantastic game. The game looked over when Jacoby Jones scored a touchdown after a 108 yard kick off return to open the second half. It looked like something dramatic and crazy would have to happen to allow the 49ers to get back into the game. Something dramatic and crazy like a power cut? Obviously we can't say for definite that it changed the game but it certainly looked like the 49ers dealt with it better and came out flying after the interruption.
Up until then it had been all Baltimore and they led 28-6 when one half of the stadium was plunged into darkness. The Ravens were well on top on both sides of the ball and had scored four touchdowns while restricting the 49ers to just two field goals. After the break the 49ers came back with a bang and scored seventeen unanswered points to reduce the gap to five points at the end of the third quarter. The Ravens responded with a field goal but the 49ers scored a touchdown to reduce the deficit to two points. They decided to go for the two point conversion to level the game but the Ravens ran a blitz and the attempt failed. In my opinion the Ravens had a bit of luck as it looked like there was an offside on the play. As it was the officials missed it and the Ravens went on a clock killing, 10 play drive that took 5:38 off the clock. The drive ended with a Ravens field goal that left the score at 34-29 with 4:19 remaining. The 49ers got down to work and made good progress down the field. After five plays the 49ers had first and goal on the Baltimore seven yard line and looked sure to score. They tried a run play on first down that got the ball to the five and took the game to the two minute warning. Two incompletions later and the ball was still on the five as the 49ers lined up for fourth down. Kaepernick got a pass off and it seemed clear to everyone watching that Michael Crabtree was held but bizarrely the officials let the play go.
The Ravens now had the ball with 1:46 left on the clock. San Francisco had one timeout left after wasting their second one on the previous drive when it looked as though they were about to be hit with a delay of game penalty. Due to the lack of timeouts, the Ravens were able to run the ball on the first three downs which left just twelve seconds on the clock. Instead of punting from the back of the endzone they very cleverly took an intentional safety which allowed them to run eight seconds off the clock and then punt from their own twenty which made things a lot more difficult for the 49ers. As it was Sam Koch hit a booming kick right down the field which Ted Ginn Jr managed to get back to midfield but after breaking a few tackles he was eventually brought down which set off the purple ticker tape much to the delight of everyone involved with the Baltimore Ravens.
It's hard to take the victory away from the Ravens but I would point to two dubious calls late in the game which may have changed the outcome. However, it wasn't to be and in a few years time it will only be the San Francisco 49ers fans who remember those bad calls and everyone else will remember that Joe Flacco, Ray Lewis, John Harbaugh and the Baltimore Ravens won Superbowl XLVII.
Once again, the most important statistic in football reared it's head and the team who lost the turnovers battle, lost the game. The Baltimore Ravens turned the ball over once and the 49ers turned it over twice. The 49ers went close to beating that stat but not close enough and in each of this years eleven playoff games, the winner of the turnover battle was the winner of the game. If that doesn't underline how important it is to take care of the football, then nothing will.
The San Francisco 49ers put together a good run this year and got an extra step closer to success but they will no doubt be developing a few scars after last years defeat in the NFC title game and this years Superbowl loss. I imagine next seasons mantra will be, "one more win" or something to that effect. The 49ers deserve a lot of credit for their performances in the last two years but as an Eagles fan I know as well as anyone that when you make it to these games, you have to take advantage of it as it can all go very wrong, very quickly.
In the game itself, Colin Kaepernick finished with 302 yards, a touchdown and an interception. On the ground he ran for 62 yards and a touchdown. Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis were his leading receivers. Crabtree caught 5 passes for 109 yards and a touchdown. Davis caught 6 passes for 104 yards. Frank Gore also had a good game on the ground, rushing for 110 yards and a touchdown.
The Ravens struggled on the ground and averaged just 2.7 yards per carry. Ray Rice picked up 59 yards from 20 carries and Bernard Pierce ran for 33 yards from 12 carries. Anquan Boldin was their leading receiver, catching 6 passes for 104 yards and a touchdown. Jacoby Jones also had a great day, catching a 56 yard touchdown pass and he also returned a kickoff for a 108 yard touchdown. All those players played well but the MVP for this game and right through the playoffs was Joe Flacco. Flacco completed two thirds of his passes for 287 yards and 3 touchdowns. He has been outstanding throughout and nobody deserves more credit for this Superbowl win than Joe Flacco. He has been a bit of a joke figure throughout his career but eleven touchdowns and no interceptions on the way to a Superbowl victory is the best way anyone can stick two fingers up to their critics. Flacco will now get a huge contract with the Ravens and if he can carry his current form into next season then there's no doubt that Flacco will be in that elite bracket with other Superbowl champions like Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers.
No Superbowl review would be complete without mentioning the two stories that dominated the build up to the big game, Ray Lewis' retirement and the battle of the Harbaugh brothers. Ray Lewis got the end to his hall of fame career that he could only have dreamt of. No professional sports man fits the marmite tag more than Lewis. Some hate him, some love him but nobody can deny that on the field he has been a pleasure to watch over the years and will go down as one of the best linebackers in the games illustrious history.
The other story was the amazing circumstances that led to two brothers standing on opposing sidelines. Jim and John Harbaugh have proven themselves to be excellent coaches in the NFL and with them both being in the early stages of their careers, this may not be the last time that they go head to head in the Superbowl. It is an amazing story though and when you consider the amount of coaches at every NFL franchise and throughout college football it is remarkable that they have been able to work their way up the coaching ranks to be the head coaches in a Superbowl. Their family will be extremely proud of their achievements but at the same time it will also have been an extremely difficult time for them. In the end John is the brother who will be getting fitted for a Superbowl ring and as happy an occasion as that is, there will always be the sadness that it came at Jim's expense. The brothers seem solid though and I've no doubt that nothing would please John more than to see his younger brother follow in his footsteps and get his ring in the next few years.
49ers Offensive Star : Frank Gore - Gore just edges Kaepernick for me. His 5.8 yards per carry and a touchdown was a good return and Kaepernick gets a negative mark for what was a very poor and costly interception.
49ers Defensive Star : NaVorro Bowman - 9 tackles including 2 for a loss and 2 hits on Joe Flacco were enough to earn Bowman this prize but unfortunately for him, it wasn't enough to win the game for the 49ers.
Ravens Offensive Star : Joe Flacco - Who else but the Superbowl's MVP? Flacco has been excellent throughout and although he was run close by Jacoby Jones, he deserves it for his play right through the playoffs.
Ravens Defensive Star : Corey Graham - This guy has shown himself to be a top class cornerback in this playoff run and he was on top of his game last night. He made 6 tackles but more importantly he made 2 crucial pass deflections that had a big impact on the result.
NFL PLAYOFF CHALLENGE AND PICKS
Big congratulations to Edward McMullan whose Mallbrohimovic team won the blog's league on NFL.com. Edward is a New York Giants fan but we won't hold that against him. My own challenge went much the same way as my predictions. After a 4-0 start and getting all eight of my team through the wildcard round, things took a bad turn for me. After that I went 2-5 to finish 6-5 for the playoffs and I never managed to pick one player who won a divisional round match or a conference championship match. It wasn't to be for me and it looks like I will have to abandon my gung ho style and take a safer approach in next years competition.
Finally, I'd like to give a big thanks to everyone who has read the blog over the course of the season. It has had thousands of hits and it makes all the time I have put into it worthwhile. Next up for me is the birth of my third child. My wife is due in the next few days and fingers crossed all goes well. I will most likely take a short break when that happens but rest assured I will be back posting within a few weeks although I'm not sure what subject it will be on. I've no doubt, I'll have plenty to say on Free Agency, the NFL Draft and I will most definitely be back posting on the 2013 NFL season in September where I WILL finish with a better record than I did this year. Once again thanks and in the mean time feel free to follow me on Twitter. https://twitter.com/gjsportsblog