The Baltimore Ravens are Super Bowl 47 Champions; yes, despite the tough wall of opponents that they had to blast through. This game follows the previous five games in the sense that it came down to the final two minutes and ended in thrilling fashion. And how fitting was it to come to a goal line stand from the Ravens as well?
This game had a little bit of everything in it. Despite what the final score may indicate, there was some good defense played as well as some dynamic offense. Special teams also played a huge role in the outcome (thanks to Jacoby Jones’ 109 yard kickoff return for a TD). While it may be obvious to focus on the things that Baltimore did right to win, first let’s discover what the 49ers did wrong to cost them the game…
First of all, the play-calling was a bit conservative to start, which is to be expected since it is a Super Bowl. What was not good was the play-calling in the red zone for San Fran. On two separate occasions Greg Roman had Colin Kaepernick rolling out to his right on a naked bootleg. This did not work on either try, nor does it work a whole lot with any team to begin with. It really restricted the field for him and since the Ravens did a superb job at getting bodies around the line of scrimmage all game, it cut down on the rush lanes #7 had. At the end of the game when Kaepernick sprinted to his right and threw an incompletion (in the vicinity of Michael Crabtree), it immediately screamed BAD PLAY CALL!!! It could have been better if they ran a HB draw with Frank Gore in spite of the time left on the clock. Simply put, restricting a young QB’s options is (more or less) begging for disaster. They also ran a similar play at the end of the first half that costed them a potential four points. Anyways, the other thing that the Niners struggled with was covering the deep ball. Flacco is known for being able to fling the ball a mile in the air down the field and he got a couple of them in against this vaunted secondary. The TD pass to Jacoby Jones at the end of the first half was incredible on Joe’s part, but it was only made possible because of poor defense. It had looked like Chris Culliver had expected safety help over the top and then let Jones behind him. The 49ers also turned the ball over a couple of times and seemed a bit out of character (before the power outage).
Speaking of this outage, after the 34 minute delay, San Fran seemed to be a different team. They were running better plays and protecting Kaepernick better on offense and the defense stepped up its game by leaps and bounds. Jim Caldwell called a brilliant game and he tried to be aggressive even when the Ravens were up 28-6. Despite this, Vic Fangio’s unit stopped Flacco and the Raven offense dead in its tracks. They also forced a Ray Rice fumble to help them cut the game to a one score deficit (his ball security has been bad over the last month. He is going to find himself losing touches to Bernard Pierce next season). At one point the game was 31-29 and the Niners had to make good on a two point conversion, and failed to do so. It was surprising to see Baltimore blitz on that play seeing as how whenever they did, they left lanes open for Kaepernick to run through. Also, young Colin did a great job rebounding from his early interception and was carving up this Ravens’ defense for the better part of the second half. He hit Vernon Davis up over the middle of the field multiple times and he also made good with Michael Crabtree (who had a big performance). Although they did not win this game, 49er fans can feel confident that their youngster is a fighter and can always pull his team back from any deficit.
Really, if there was one guy who should get credited with a win, it is Joe Flacco. He played brilliantly, not just in this game but throughout the entire postseason. He tied a record for passing touchdowns in the playoffs (with 11) and threw no picks. You could not possibly ask for much more out of the man. Through the course of this game, his offensive line gave him sold protection, and when the pocket broke down, #5 was able to escape to his right and still make some throws down the field. Make no mistake, this was not a fluke win for Baltimore. They did more right than San Francisco did, and thus they are the ones hoisting the Lombardi Trophy at the end of the night.
And just as a side-note here, the 4th and goal play on the 49ers’ final drive was ended in a “controversial” way. Many people thought that Jimmy Smith got away with a hold on Michael Crabtree. You could make a case that a flag could have been thrown, but the no-call was the right call. Earlier in the game Chris Culliver was getting away with some hand jostling on Torrey Smith and Terrell Brown was playing some aggressive bump-and-run with the Baltimore receivers. Like they said on the NFL Network, that call at the end of the game was consistent with the others throughout the duration of the Super Bowl. Maintaining that level of consistency was paramount, and Jerome Boger and company did a fine job officiating the game.
The put a bow on this review, let’s start with the production of the show. CBS did an outstanding job with this game. They did a nice job improvising during the power outage and they did not overload the viewers with the Harbaugh vs. Harbaugh storyline. This premise was mixed in, but done so in “good taste”. Also, the feel-good story coming out of this Super Bowl is not necessarily Ray Lewis, but instead, consider the story involving Torrey Smith. After losing his brother earlier in the season, he did not falter and continued to play the game at a high level. It is good to see his perseverance and heart rewarded with the Lombardi Trophy and a Super Bowl ring. Anyways, this was a good game and will certainly be remembered for years to come (be it for the epic turnaround in the second half for the 49ers, the power outage, or the brothers on opposite sidelines). This game was phenomenally entertaining throughout, just the way the final game of the NFL season should be. These two teams represented their individual conferences very well and the Baltimore Ravens are deserving of this victory.