This year, the Super Bowl matched up the AFC champion Baltimore Ravens against the NFC champion San Francisco 49ers. It was the first time in Super Bowl history that brothers (John and Jim Harbaugh) were coaching the teams and it was being billed as the “Har-Bowl” or the “Super-Bro.” So, after two weeks of hype, we were finally ready for the game to start. The Ravens won the toss and deferred to the second half. Kicker Justin Tucker kicked it deep for a touch-back and the 49ers started at their 20. They got the game off to a good start when quarterback Colin Kaepernick completed a 20-yard pass to tight end Vernon Davis. Unfortunately, that play was called back due to an illegal formation penalty. Three plays later, punter Andy Lee came on and hit a 50-yard punt that was fielded at the Raven 32 by return man Jacoby Jones. He returned it to the 49 and the Ravens had good field position for their first drive.
From the 49, quarterback Joe Flacco completed a short pass to fullback Vonta Leach that went for eight yards. Running back Ray Rice ran for four yards on the next play and that got the Ravens a first down at the San Francisco 39. From the 39, Flacco went to wide receiver Torrey Smith for 20 more yards and the Ravens were marching. A short run by Rice and an incomplete pass made it third and nine. On third down, Flacco looked for tight end Dennis Pitta and the pass was incomplete. However, the 49ers were flagged for an offside penalty. On third and four from the 13, Flacco threw for the end zone and the pass was caught by wide receiver Anquan Boldin for a touchdown. Tucker made the point after and the Ravens had an early 7-0 lead.
Starting from their 20, the 49ers went to work. Running back Frank Gore was thrown for a loss of one on first down, but Kaepernick came back with a 19-yard completion to wide receiver Michael Crabtree. Runs of nine and five yards by Gore and 16 more rushing yards from Kaepernick moved the ball to the Raven 32. Kaepernick then found Davis open for a gain of 24 and the 49ers were at the Raven eight-yard line. They would go no further. In fact, they went backwards as Kaepernick was sacked on third down for a loss of ten by linebacker Paul Kruger. Kicker David Akers came into the game and made his 36-yard field goal attempt. That made it 7-3 with 3:58 to go in the first quarter.
The Ravens managed to get a couple of first downs on their next drive but ended up punting. Sam Koch’s punt went into the end zone and the 49ers were starting from their 20 again. Passes of 29 and 11 yards to Davis had the 49ers off to a good start. Rookie running back LaMichael James ran up the left side for eight yards and Gore got seven more on the next play. On first down from the Raven 24, James ran off right end and the ball came loose. It was recovered by defensive end Arthur Jones at the 25.
Running back Bernard Pierce got some action to start this drive and he netted 12 yards on three carries. From the 37, Flacco found Pitta for nine and Pierce got two yards on his next carry for a first down at the 48. Flacco then found tight end Ed Dickson for 23 yards and Rice ran up the right side for seven more. Flacco looked for Dickson again and he was dragged down at the San Francisco eight-yard line. A facemask penalty on safety Donte Whitner made it first and goal from the four. On second and goal from the one, Flacco fired a pass into the end zone that was caught by Pitta for another Raven touchdown. Tucker made the point after and the Ravens now led 14-3 with 7:06 to go in the first half.
The 49ers got the ball back at their 21 and Kaepernick put up a deep ball for wide receiver Randy Moss. The ball was picked off by safety Ed Reed at the San Francisco 44 and returned to the 38. After that, a huge brawl ensued. Offsetting penalties were called and the Ravens were in business again. Three runs by Rice, a short pass to Leach and a seven-yard pass to Rice got them a first down at the San Francisco 15. The next three plays netted one yard and Tucker came on for a field goal attempt. Instead of kicking the ball through the uprights, Tucker took the snap and ran up the left side in hopes of getting a first down. He was pushed out of bounds one yard short of the first down marker by safety Darcel McBath.
A quick three and out by the 49ers gave the Ravens the ball at their 44. On third and ten, Flacco looked deep for Jones and the ball was caught at the San Francisco nine. After Jones caught the pass, he fell to the turf, quickly got up and made his way into the end zone for a touchdown. Tucker made the point after and the Ravens now had a 21-3 lead with 1:45 to go in the half.
Starting at the 20, Kaepernick completed a six-yard pass to Crabtree and a 14-yard pass to tight end Delanie Walker. A roughing the passer penalty on defensive tackle Haloti Ngata got them 15 more yards and a first down at the Raven 45. Kaepernick looked for Walker again and found him for a gain of 28. That got them down to the 17, but they couldn’t get the ball into the zone. Akers made his 27-yard field goal attempt and the Ravens took a 21-6 lead into the locker room.
The second half got started with a bang as Jones fielded the kickoff eight yards deep in the end zone and ran straight up the middle. Not a 49er could catch him and he ran it in for a 108-yard touchdown. By the way, that was the longest scoring play in Super Bowl history. Tucker made the point after and the Ravens now led 28-6 with 14:49 to go in the third quarter. The 49ers started at their 14 and on first down, Kaepernick hooked up with Crabtree for a gain of 29 yards. On first down from the 43, Gore ran up the left side for three and Kaepernick was sacked for a loss of six yards. And then the lights went out. The lights stayed out for a grand total of 34 minutes. I felt like I was in the twilight zone. After they finally came back on, the 49ers faced a third and 13 and didn’t get the first down. The Ravens didn’t fare much better on their next drive and punted after four plays.
From their 20, the 49ers went to work knowing they had to get something going if they wanted to avoid being blown out. Kaepernick had two scrambles that netted 20 yards and a first down at the 40. On third and eight from the 42, Moss caught a nine-yard pass for a first down at the Raven 49. From the 49, Kaepernick hit Davis for 18 yards and a first down at the 31. Next, Crabtree caught a pass on the left side, bounced off a couple of defenders and made his way into the end zone for a 49er touchdown. Akers made the point after and the score was now 28-13 with 7:20 to go in the third quarter.
On their next drive, the Ravens went nowhere as Flacco was sacked on third and ten by linebacker Ahmad Brooks. 49er return man Tedd Ginn fielded the punt at the San Francisco 48 and returned it to the Raven 20. It took two plays to go 20 yards and Gore ran the ball in from the six-yard line for a touchdown. Akers made the point after and it was now 28-20 with five minutes to go in the third quarter. You could feel the momentum swing in favor of the 49ers. What made it worse for the Ravens was an injury to Ngata. He would not return to the game. It couldn’t get worse than that, could it? Yes it could. On second and seven from the 23, the 49ers brought the blitz. Flacco managed to dump off a pass to Rice on the left side where he was hit by cornerback Tarell Brown. The ball came loose and Brown recovered it at the 24.
This time, the Raven defense was ready. The 49ers managed to gain only three yards on three plays and it was up to Akers to put some more points on the board. His kick sailed wide left, but the Ravens were flagged for running into the kicker. That moved them up five yards and Akers was granted another try from 34 yards. The kick was good and the score was now 28-23 with 3:10 to go in the third quarter.
The Ravens took over at their 28. Two runs by Pierce and a 30-yard catch and run by Boldin moved the Ravens to the San Francisco 35. Pitta caught another one for seven yards, Rice ran for two and Pierce had a nice run up the left side for a gain of eight. He was hurt after that play, but would return later in the game. A four-yard run by Rice and a nine-yard catch by Boldin made it first and goal at the four. Two runs by Rice got them down to the one. Instead of running it again, Flacco rolled out to the right side and couldn’t find anyone open. The pass was incomplete and the Ravens had to settle for a 19-yard field goal attempt. The kick was good and that made it 31-23 with 12:54 to go in the game.
The 49ers had little trouble moving the ball from their 24-yard line. A five-yard run by Gore, a 32-yard catch by Moss and a 21-yard run by Gore made it first down at the Raven 18. On second and seven from the 15, Kaepernick took it the rest of the way for another touchdown. That made it 31-29 and they went for two to tie the game up. The Ravens blitzed and Kaepernick’s pass to Moss was overthrown. The score remained 31-29 with 9:57 to go in the game.
The Ravens started at their 21 and on third and nine, a pass interference penalty was called on cornerback Chris Culliver. That gave them a first down at their 36. A short run by Pierce and another catch by Boldin appeared to give the Ravens another first down. But 49er head coach Jim Harbaugh challenged the spot and it was ruled Boldin was short of the first down. That made it third and one from the 45. I think everyone in the building was expecting a run up the middle on the next play. Instead, Flacco called an audible and threw to the right side to Boldin. Despite being blanketed by cornerback Carlos Rogers, Boldin managed to haul in the pass for a gain of 15 and a crucial first down. Rice finally got loose for a gain of 12 and another first down at the San Francisco 28. Two short runs by Rice and an offside penalty made it third and two at the 20. Flacco fired a pass to Pitta, but he couldn’t hold on and that brought up fourth down. Tucker came into the game again and his 38-yard attempt was good. The Ravens now led 34-29 with 4:19 to go in the game.
Eight-yard runs by Kaepernick and Gore got the 49ers a first down at their 36. On second and ten from the 36, Kaepernick hit Crabtree for a gain of 24 and a first down at the Raven 40. From the 40, Gore ran up the left side and was finally pushed out of bounds at the seven-yard line. The 49ers had to go seven yards to take the lead after they had trailed 28-6 earlier in the game. From the seven, James ran for two yards. On second down from the five, Kaepernick looked for Crabtree and the pass was incomplete. He would look for Crabtree again on third down and get the same result. That made it fourth and goal from the five. Kaepernick took the snap and once again looked for Crabtree in the end zone. The pass fell incomplete and the 49ers turned the ball over on downs. There was definitely some contact between Crabtree and cornerback Jimmy Smith on that final play, but no flag was thrown. This caused Jim Harbaugh to lose his mind and he was very critical of the zebras after the game.
The Ravens took over at their five-yard line and three plays got them exactly three yards. The 49ers used up their remaining timeouts and on fourth down with 12 seconds remaining, the Ravens went into punt formation. Koch took the snap and held the ball as long as he could before running out of the end zone for a safety. That made it 34-31 with four seconds remaining. From the 20, Koch blasted a 61-yard punt that was fielded by Ginn. He fielded it at the 19 and was brought down at midfield. That brought the game to an end with the final score: Baltimore Ravens 34 San Francisco 49ers 31.
For the Ravens, Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco completed 23 of 33 for 287 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. Anquan Boldin led the team in receptions with six and receiving yards with 104 and a touchdown. The Ravens had a tough time moving the ball on the ground and Ray Rice led the way with 59 yards on 20 carries. Rice also had 19 yards receiving and one lost fumble. As a team, the Ravens rushed for just 93 yards on 35 carries. Defensively, linebacker Dannell Ellerbee led the Ravens with six solo tackles and one tackle for a loss.
For the 49ers, Colin Kaepernick completed 16 of 28 for 302 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He also had 62 yards rushing on seven carries and one rushing touchdown. Vernon Davis led the team in receptions with six and Crabtree had the most yards receiving with 109 and a touchdown. On the ground, Frank Gore led the way with 110 yards on 19 carries and a touchdown. As a team, the 49ers averaged 6.3 yards a carry and racked up 182 yards on 29 carries. Defensively, linebacker Patrick Willis led the 49ers with eight solo tackles.
That was one hell of a game. The Ravens could do no wrong until the lights went out. After they came back on, all the momentum switched to the 49ers. But, when it came to crunch time, the Raven defense got the job done. Linebacker Ray Lewis played his last game and is retiring a champion. The next time we see him will be at his Hall of Fame induction speech. It was indeed a tough loss for the 49ers, but they have a bright future with Colin Kaepernick at the helm. I would imagine quarterback Alex Smith won’t be back next year. Maybe he’ll end up in Arizona or Kansas City. As of right now, your guess is as good as mine.
I enjoyed writing all these post season articles and I’ll return next month as The Raider Guy. They have the third pick in the draft this year and need help at lots of positions. As far as I am concerned, Damontre Moore from Texas A&M is the guy they need to get. That will be discussed at a later time. Until then, take it easy.