Super Bowl XLVII Review: Baltimore Ravens vs. San Francisco 49ers
By Loot, NFL Handicapper, Lootmeister.com
Date: February 3, 2013
Site: Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana
Point-Spread: San Francisco 49ers -4/Baltimore Ravens +4
Score: Baltimore Ravens 34, San Francisco 31
MVP: QB Joe Flacco
Super Bowl XLVII was a great matchup between the Ravens and 49ers--a game of changing momentum with a lot of big plays. The Ravens won 3 games in the playoffs to advance to the superbowl, galvanized by the return and impending retirement of the greatest Raven ever--linebacker Ray Lewis. The Niners, meanwhile, changed their quarterback in midseason, riding QB Colin Kaepernick all the way to the big game.
The game was known as the Harbaugh bowl. This was the first and probably last time that the opposing coaches were brothers. Jim was the star player in college and the NFL, while older brother John pursued coaching from a young age. In this case, the older brother would have the last laugh. Still, it’s hard to wrap your head around the fact that two brothers can be opposing coaches in the Super Bowl.
The Ravens really came into their own as the season grew older. They fired offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, as former Colts coach Jim Caldwell took over calling the plays. Their offense got better at just the right time. Quarterback Joe Flacco was dialed in late, making full use of a productive pass-attack--with reliable veteran Anquan Boldin, fast Jacoby Jones, and sure-handed Dennis Pitta, among others. With Ray Rice in the backfield, this offense bore little resemblance to the Ravens’ other Super Bowl team--which was all about defense. Still, with names like Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs, and Ed Reed--defense was a big part of the team’s success.
Jim Harbaugh caught some flack by benching QB Alex Smith in favor of second-year pro Colin Kaepernick. The Niners were doing well, but Harbaugh determined if he were to get the 49ers to the next level, he would need more out of their QB. It turned out be a bold yet correct move, with the once-dominant Niners making their first Bowl appearance in nearly 20 years.
Kaepernick really shined, combining a cannon arm with a dangerous set of legs that made him a constant threat to run. Defenses had more to think about with Kaepernick at the helm. With Frank Gore in the backfield, The run attack was robust. Kaepernick made full use of a talented corps of pass-catchers, including Michael Crabtree, Vernon Davis, and Randy Moss.
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But this wasn’t your typical great 49ers team. Rather than the high-flying teams of the past, this team relied on defense. They were 2nd in the league in points allowed, with a half-dozen starters going to the Pro Bowl, including 3 linebackers. The Niners had a first-round bye in the playoffs, before facing Green Bay in the divisional game. Kaepernick ran for 181 games, as the 49ers won 45-31. In the NFC title game in Atlanta, they fell behind 17-0 in the first half. As was their wont, the Niners stormed back, earning a shot at the big game.
The Ravens won at home in the playoff opener against the resurgent Colts, winning 24-9. Next up was a road game at the top-seeded Broncos, who had exploded back into prominence with an MVP-caliber season from Peyton Manning. The Ravens ended Denver’s 11-game winning streak when Flacco connected with a bomb to Jacoby Jones with less than a minute left to send it into overtime where they won the game. Then as major underdogs, they stomped the Patriots 28-13 in their second straight road upset to get the Super Bowl.
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First Half: Things got off to a rough start for the Niners. A penalty spoiled their first drive and the Ravens immediately took control. Baltimore’s first drive resulted in WR Anquan Boldin continuing his stellar postseason play, when he and Joe Flacco connected on a 13-yard touchdown pass to go up 7-0. San Francisco responded with Kaepernick connecting with nice pass plays to Davis and Crabtree, setting up K David Akers for a 36-yard field goal.
Things got a little rough for the Niners. Niners’ RB LaMichael James lost the ball, setting the Ravens up with good field position. Flacco moved the ball down the field, culminating in a 1-yard touchdown pass to Dennis Pitta to go up 14-3. It got worse for the 49ers, as Kaepernick was picked off by Ed Reed. The Niners got off the hook when the Ravens went for fake field goal, with kicker Justin Tucker stopped just shy of the first down.
When Baltimore got the ball back, they made it count. Flacco spotted Jacoby Jones down the field. Jones caught the ball, fell down untouched, then got up and avoided tacklers as he slid into the end zone to go up 21-3. San Francisco managed a field goal before the half, however, to narrow the deficit at 21-6.
Second Half: The 2nd half began terribly for the Niners, as Jacoby Jones returned the opening kickoff 108 yards for the longest play in Super Bowl history. The touchdown made it 28-6. Then the lights went out. A power outage resulted in a 34-minute delay. It seemed to cool the Ravens’ jets. Upon the game restarting, San Francisco got back into the game. Kaepernick hooked up with Crabtree to make it 28-13. San Francisco got the ball back late in the third and a drive culminated in Frank Gore running it in from 6 yards to make it 28-20.
In the 4th, the good momentum continued for San Francisco when Ravens’ RB Ray Rice fumbled on Baltimore’s 25-yard line. It led to a field goal attempt that Akers missed, but a defender ran into the kicker. On his second chance, Akers connected from 34 to make it 28-23. Baltimore responded with a big drive, but stalled out. Tucker connected from 19 yards to increase the lead to 8 points at 31-23. Kaepernick and Company were unfazed, however, and stormed down the field. In just five plays, the Niners were in the end zone, courtesy of a 15-yard run by Kaepernick. The two-point conversion missed, leaving the Niners behind 31-29.
Baltimore kept moving the ball, however, and another drive led to field goal that pushed the lead to 34-29. San Francisco didn’t give up and a big pass play to Crabtree and a 33-yard run by Gore put them on the Baltimore 7-yard line. Kaepernick couldn’t get the ball in the end zone, and Baltimore took over. San Francisco forced a 4th down with the Ravens pinned in their own end zone. Ravens’ punter Sam Koch ate up 8 seconds before deliberately stepping out for a Niners safety to make it 34-31. Ted Ginn took the kick in the game’s final play but was tackled at mid-field to end the game and give the Ravens their second Super Bowl ring, in addition to sending Ray Lewis off to retirement on a high note. MVP Joe Flacco was 22-33 for 287 yards and 3 touchdowns.