San Francisco 49ers

A Ravenous Victory

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And they lived happily ever after. The fairy tale story came true for Ray Lewis and the Baltimore Ravens last night in Super Bowl XLVII, with a 34-31 win over the San Francisco 49ers. The Ravens entered the playoffs coming off a losing streak, three of their last four games, and barely made postseason play. Then, just four days before their opening playoff game against the Indianapolis Colts, Ray Lewis announced his retirement. The fans were shocked, the coaches sad to see a premier player leave the game, but it all came down to the players. They wanted to make Ray’s last season special. After a convincing 24-9 win against the Colts, the Ravens plowed through playoff competition to reach the Super Bowl, with a drive to win that all rested on making it the greatest of all going away parties.

The Ravens wasted no time, scoring on their first possession of the game, a 13 yard throw and catch from Joe Flacco to Anquan Boldin. The first half was dominated by the Ravens, scoring twice more after that, both on passes from Joe Flacco to Dennis Pitta and Jacoby Jones, respectively. The 49ers couldn’t get their offense started, only putting up six points in the first half. Rookie sensation Colin Kaepernick looked uncomfortable in the pocket to say the least, with shaky accuracy and an overthrown ball that was picked off by Ed Reed.

The second half looked to be the same, with Jacoby Jones returning the opening second half kickoff 109 yards for a touchdown. But then the electricity was sucked out of the building. Literally. A power issue in the Superdome cause the entire stadium to go dark, lit up only by auxiliary and emergency lights. This proved to hurt more than just the television views, in which watchers endured a gruelling 34 minutes of darkness until the lights began popping back on.

“It really hurt us. We had lot of momentum,” fullback Vonta Leach of the Ravens told CBS. “We were rolling. That 35- or 40-minute wait, whatever it was, hurt our momentum as far as what we were trying to do.”  The 49ers came back from the break with a vengeance, and the next three scores of the game, on a thirty-one yard touchdown pass from Kaepernick to Michael Crabtree, a six yard touchdown run by Frank Gore, and thirty-four yard field goal from David Akers. And just like that at the end of the third quarter the score stood, still in favor of the Ravens, at 28-23.

After a fourth quarter field goal from Ravens’ kicker Justin Tucker, the 49ers found themselves going for two, and the tie, after a fifteen yard touchdown run by Kaepernick. The two point conversion was halted by someone who could barely be seen running through the line of scrimmage to disrupt Kaepernick’s timing on the throw. Ravens’ safety Ed Reed blitzed on the play, and nearly sacked Kaepernick, but still forced an errant throw.

From that point on the Ravens’ took control and cruised to their second Super Bowl win.

USA Today
USA Today

It was the perfect ending to the perfect story, an unlikely playoff run to the Super Bowl, a beatdown in the first half, and still the calm, collectedness to hold off the rising 49ers attack late in the game.

Congratulations to the Baltimore Ravens on their Super Bowl win, and a warm parting from Ray Lewis, one of the best linebackers in NFL history.

Mike Mayer