NEW ORLEANS – After a hard-fought battle for momentum between the AFC Champions Baltimore Ravens and the NFC Champions San Francisco 49ers, Joe Flacco and Ray Lewis led the Ravens to victory last Sunday in the Superdome.
With the sibling rivalry of coaches Jim and John Harbaugh, the second-year quarterback Colin Kaepernick in his tenth start, and the legendary Ray Lewis in his last game, this year’s Super Bowl proved to be one of most exciting Super Bowls to date.
The first half was completely one-sided as the Ravens scored 21 points and held the 49ers to just 6 points.
The 49ers struggled early in the first half after going three and out in their first offensive series.
On the Ravens’ first offensive series, quarterback Joe Flacco found wide receiver Anquan Boldin for a 13-yard touchdown pass to give the Ravens a 7-0 lead.
On the following 49er drive, second-year quarterback Colin Kaepernick led his team down the field, resulting in a field goal.
The first of two devastating San Francisco turnovers came when LaMichael James fumbled the ball and was then recovered by Ravens defensive end Arthur Jones.
The key turnover set up Joe Flacco and tight end Dennis Pitta for a touchdown pass, putting the Ravens up by 11 points.
The second devastating turnover for the 49ers came when a Kaepernick pass intended for wide-receiver Randy Moss was picked off by Ravens safety Ed Reed.
With the momentum moving in favor of Baltimore, Joe Flacco found wide receiver Jacoby Jones, who escaped the San Francisco defense and scored a 56-yard touchdown late in the second quarter.
At the end of the second quarter, Kaepernick and the 49ers fought back and managed to put together a successful drive setting up kicker David Akers for a field goal. The 49ers scored only 6 points in the first half of play.
In the opening play of the second half, Jacoby Jones tied the record for the longest kickoff return in super bowl history with a 108-yard kickoff return for a Ravens touchdown. The heart-stopping play put the Ravens up by 22 points, their largest lead of the game.
The start of second half was surging with momentum for the Baltimore Ravens, that is, until early in the 3rd quarter. Play was halted due to a blown circuit, resulting in a Stadium wide power outage.
With Baltimore leading 28-6, this critical power outage may have come as a blessing for the 49ers.
When play resumed 35 minutes later, a shift in momentum came shortly after in the third quarter when Colin Kaepernick and Michael Crabtree connected for the 49ers’ first touchdown of the game.
On the ensuing drive, the momentum change was solidified when Flacco was sacked by outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks, forcing the Ravens to punt to a spirited 49er offense.
On the next offensive series for the 49ers, Kaepernick handed the ball off to Frank Gore resulting in another San Francisco touchdown, putting them down by only 8 points.
And within only two offensive series, the Ravens lost their 22-point lead, and the 49ers brought themselves within 8 points.
To make matters worse for the Ravens, running back Ray Rice fumbled on the next drive, where the 49ers would recover at the 24-yard line. This set up David Akers for a 34-yard field goal, which put the 49ers within 5 points.
The Ravens would answer back and set up Justin Tucker for a field goal, which extended Baltimore’s lead by 8.
With 9:57 left in the 4th and newfound momentum, the 49ers attacked as Kaepernick rushed 15 yards for a touchdown, setting a new Super Bowl record for the longest touchdown rush by a quarterback.
With the Ravens up by 2 points, the 49ers attempted a 2-point conversion, but failed as a blitzing Ed Reed hurried Kaepernick into an unsuccessful pass.
During a 5 minutes and 38 second offensive drive, Flacco ran 10 plays for 59 yards, ending by setting up rookie kicker Justin Tucker with a 38-yard field goal, putting the Ravens up by 5.
In the exciting final moments, the 49ers had a real chance to take the lead with a touchdown. Kaepernicks’s 4th and goal pass to Michael Crabtree was ruled incomplete.
The controversial non-call by officials have 49ers fans and staff pulling their hair out.
Jim Harbaugh, coach of the 49ers, commented on the controversial call, “No question in my mind there was a pass interference and a hold on Michael Crabtree”.
To run down the clock, the Ravens took an intentional safety, leaving 4 seconds on the clock.
The free kick by Justin Tucker was returned by 49er Ted Ginn to no avail, making the Baltimore Ravens Super Bowl Champions, with a score of 34-31.
The comeback by Kaepernick and the 49ers was impressive, but not impressive enough to overcome Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco and Ravens head coach John Harbaugh.
In his final NFL game, Ray Lewis comments on his career, “I walked into the game as a young puppet 17 years old, and I leave the game a full grown man, as a two-time world champion, there’s no better way to leave the game”.