The 47th Super Bowl is in the books and the Baltimore Ravens are the Super Bowl champions as they defeated the San Francisco 49ers 34-31. I have so many things on my mind coming out of that game, so here are ten of those thoughts.
1) I was very impressed by Joe Flacco in this game as well as during this entire playoff run. He threw 11 TDs with zero interceptions in the playoffs. In the Super Bowl he threw three TDs for 287 yards. His passer rating was a very impressive 124.2. He absolutely deserved the MVP award.
There were a lot of plays that he made that impressed me including all the TD passes, but the big one came late in the 4th when he hit Anquan Boldin on a back shoulder throw on third and inches. It set the Ravens up for a field goal that proved to be the difference at the end of the game. Flacco was incredible during the playoffs and anybody doubting him as a starting QB should watch what he did in the last four weeks because he absolutely earned the right to be called one of the best QBs in the league.
The receivers of the Ravens played very well during the entire playoffs too. Boldin was especially huge in this game as well as Jacoby Jones with that deep catch over the middle for a score in the first half. Torrey Smith was stopped in this game, but the other guys stepped up and Flacco proved he could spread the ball around just like all of the other great passers in the history of the league.
2) The lack of execution by the Niners in the first half was a big reason why they failed to win this game. Colin Kaepernick played amazing football in the second half. Where was it in the first, though? It's the same thing that happened against the Falcons in the NFC Title game, but they were able to come back to win that one.
In this instance the lack of production by the Niners offense in the first half really came back to bite them in the ass. I'm not sure if it was nerves or if the Ravens picked up something on the Niners. It just seemed like the Niners weren't ready for the start of that game. It happens to a lot of teams in the Super Bowl.
3) I was very impressed by the 108 yard kick return by Jacoby Jones to begin the second half. Normally players don't run the ball out from eight yards deep in the endzone, but due to the kick being low he decided to run it out. Jones made the right decision because there was a seam in the middle of the field that he hit at full speed and he outran everybody on the Niners. Only one player on the Niners got a hand on him. That set up the Ravens with a 28-6 lead coming out of the half. It was a huge difference maker for them.
4) The power outage was such a momentum killer in the game. How does a 34 minute power outage even happen at an event like the Super Bowl? There were people falling asleep at the party I was at because we had just seen a 30 minute halftime break, then we saw that kick return and then there was the power outage.
5) This stat jumped out at me courtesy of @ESPNStatsInfo on Twitter: The Ravens allowed 468 yards of offense to the 49ers, the most ever by a Super Bowl winner. Think about that for a second. They gave up nearly 500 yards of offense and still managed to win the game. That's hard to do in the NFL especially in the playoffs.
Their defense looked so exhausted in the second half of that game. In the first half it looked as though they had figured out the Niners. Then they fell apart in the second half aside from that key stop late in the game. In a game with 835 yards combined it was a defensive stop that won it for the Ravens. It's funny how that works out.
6) Even though he is not one of my favorite players, I respect Ray Lewis as a football player. He is a great leader that got the best out of his teammates and is arguably the best middle linebacker in NFL history. For that he gets a lot of respect from me.
While he didn't necessarily have a great game (he looked slow in pass coverage), it was that defense that came up with that key stop with under two minutes left and the Niners unable to get that final score. Lewis may the best leader in NFL history. All of that leadership paid off on that last Niners drive of the game because the Ravens defense prevented the Niners from scoring that final touchdown to complete the comeback.
7) Speaking of the Niners failing to get into the end zone with under two minutes left, I thought that coach Jim Harbaugh made a mistake by calling a timeout to prevent a delay of game. They were on the five yard line on third down. If they take the penalty they go to the ten yard line and it gives you more room to operate. More importantly they lost a timeout meaning if they failed to get a touchdown then you would have no time to score.
If they kept that timeout they would have had time left to possibly get another scoring chance if they held the Ravens from getting a first down. I know that there are a lot of "ifs" there, but that's just one of those things that the Niners will have to deal with.
8) The other thing I took away from that last Niners possession is that I think that fourth down pass was a holding penalty on Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith while covering Michael Crabtree. I can understand the refs not wanting to call a penalty there because they let them play a lot since the Ravens were only penalized twice in the whole game. It was big, though. They were past the five yard mark and Smith had his hands on the jersey of Crabtree. Smith probably knew he could get away with it. If they called it people would have complained. Since they didn't call it, people are complaining about it especially Niners coach Jim Harbaugh, who was signaling for a holding penalty immediately.
9) Did you see that Beyonce performance at halftime? Fine looking woman. Talented too. Didn't seem like she lip synced either, so that probably made the haters happy. How can you really hate any of that? I'm not a huge fan of style of music, but look at her. Let's bring her back next year. No complaints from me.
10) If you paid attention to my picks you would have noticed that I went 7-4 straight up in the playoffs. Three of those losses happened because I didn't pick the Baltimore Ravens in their last three games. If you look back at the Denver game they probably shouldn't have won, but they found a way. Against the Patriots they just dominated that game especially in the second half. Then there was this game, where they blew a 28-6 lead in the 3rd quarter and nearly lost the game. I admire their perseverance and their will to win.
To any Ravens supporter that may dislike me for not picking them in their last three games, I'm sorry. They absolutely earned it. I just thought other teams were better and I think the fact that two of their last three wins were close proved that these teams were very evenly matched. It was a good way to end the NFL season because that's how so many games ended up this season.
My favorite player on the Ravens is Ed Reed. I think he's the best safety ever along with Ronnie Lott. I'm glad Reed go this ring. I doubt he plays more than two or three years after this, but it's awesome to see somebody work so hard for so long and get that elusive Super Bowl ring.
Congratulations to the Baltimore Ravens on winning the Super Bowl. It may not have been expected by some people, but I think by the end of the year they definitely proved they were the best team in the 2012-13 NFL season.