February 03, 2013
Ravens Overcome Power Outage On And Off Field
BY: Bob George/BosSports.net
NEW ORLEANS -- You've seen the lights go out at old Foxborough Stadium. The 49ers saw it happen at Candlestick Park a year ago in December.
And in Super Bowl XLVII, early in the third quarter, half the Mercedes-Benz Superdome lights went out, knocking out power even in the CBS broadcast booth. The resulting 35-minute delay almost produced the biggest rally in Super Bowl history. Trailing 28-6 at the time, the San Francisco 49ers went on a 23-3 run to make it a two-point deficit at 31-29 with plenty of time left in the fourth quarter to complete the comeback. The Ravens had gone completely flat since the delay, while the 49ers found their offensive rhythm and finally found a way to stop Joe Flacco and the Baltimore Ravens' offense.
But the Ravens were able to withstand the furious 49ers rally. Baltimore went on a 10-play, 79-yard drive which ended in a 38-yard Justin Tucker field goal to make it 34-29 Ravens. San Francisco had plenty of time to answer with a touchdown to take what would have been their first lead in the game, but the Ravens stopped the 49ers on three straight incompletions from Colin Kaepernick to Michael Crabtree on second down and goal at the Baltimore 5-yard line. Baltimore was able to concede a late safety and run out the clock, and won Super Bowl XLVII by a 34-31 score.
It was the first Super Bowl loss for the 49ers in franchise history, and it was brought about by a poor first half ridden with key penalties, two turnovers and no mistakes by Baltimore. The Ravens continued a recent tradition of low playoff seeds to win the Super Bowl, and for the second game in a row they were able to beat a superior team on paper because their opponent played poorly versus the Ravens imposing their will on their opponent.
Just like they beat the Patriots two weeks ago, the Ravens were benefactors of the NFC champs bringing their "D" game to the table in the first half. Right from the first play of the game, where a 20-yard pass to Vernon Davis was wiped out on an illegal formation penalty, San Francisco stumbled over themselves with key mistakes which helped Baltimore gain a 21-6 halftime advantage.
After San Francisco punted, Baltimore drove to the 49ers' 18. Facing third down and 9, the 49ers got a stop when Flacco misfired on a pass to Dennis Pitta. But Ahmad Brooks was offside on the play, and after the penalty, Flacco lofted a 13-yard touchdown pass to Anquan Boldin on the next play. The 49ers got the ball back and drove easily to the Baltimore 8. But a sack of Kaepernick by Paul Kruger forced a field goal by David Akers from 36 yards out.
The next two drives for the 49ers ended in turnovers, sandwiched around a Ray Rice one-yard touchdown run. LaMichael James ran around right end for a one-yard gain before Courtney Upshaw dislodged the ball and Arthur Jones (brother of Chandler) recovered the fumble. After the Rice touchdown, Kaepernick threw his only real poor throw of the night, overthrowing Randy Moss on the first play and right into the arms of Ed Reed. The drive ended in a fake field goal by Tucker, but the 49ers got the ball back at their own 6 and went three-and-out.
The Ravens got the ball back on their own 44. On third down and ten, Flacco found Jacobi Jones in the deep middle, who outran Chris Culliver, caught the ball, fell down at the 8, got up and ran the ball in for a 56-yard touchdown. A last-second field goal by Akers made it 21-6 Baltimore at the half.
Needing a defensive stop to have any chance to win the game, the 49ers' special teams imploded at the worst possible time. Jacobi Jones took the second half kickoff and ran it back 108 yards for a touchdown. It had originally been recorded as a 109-yarder, but it was changed later in the third quarter and tied a postseason record for longest return rather than set a new record. It was 28-6 Baltimore, and the 49ers were on life support.
Then with 13:28 to go in the third quarter, Kaepernick was sacked at his own 40 by Arthur Jones. Suddenly, CBS analyst Phil Simms was cut off in mid-sentence during a replay, the crowd began to roar, and when live action returned, the playing field was unusually dark and players were getting a water break on the field. An overhead shot showed that one-half of the stadium ceiling lights had gone out, causing a delay of 35 minutes. John Harbaugh was furious during this delay, but there was nothing that he could do.
The 49ers carried the play for the rest of the game, with Kaepernick finally showing the stuff which makes him arguably the most exciting quarterback in the NFL. He led the 49ers on scoring drives on each of the next four possessions, throwing a touchdown pass to Crabtree, scoring on a 15-yard run himself (the longest touchdown run by a quarterback in Super Bowl history) and a six-yard touchdown run by Frank Gore. The closest the 49ers got was 31-29 with ten minutes left in the game, with Kaepernick misfiring on a pass to Moss to tie the game with a two-point conversion.
But Flacco was able to fend off the 49ers with a finishing kick which produced a 38-yard field goal by Tucker to make it 34-29 with 4:19 to play. Kaepernick responded by driving the 49ers from their 20 to the Baltimore 7 thanks to a 24-yard pass to Crabtree and a 33-yard run by Gore to make it first and goal at the 7.
But Baltimore held firm and allowed only a 2-yard run on first down by James. After the two-minute warning, Kaepernick tried three straight times to hit Crabtree for the score but failed. On fourth down, it appeared that Crabtree was held in the end zone by Jimmy Smith, which was beyond the five-yard limit, but no holding was called despite Jim Harbaugh's pleas for a call.
With 12 seconds left, punter Sam Koch ran around in the end zone and stepped out for a safety with four seconds left. On the ensuing free kick, Ted Ginn Jr. ran the punt back instead of calling for a fair catch which would have given San Francisco one try at a long Hail Mary. He made it to the 50 before being tackled before he could lateral the ball, and time expired.
Flacco got the game MVP with 22 of 33 passing for 287 yards, three touchdowns and a passer rating of 124.2. Boldin would have been a good choice also, with six catches for 104 yards and a touchdown and seemed to injure the 49ers every time he caught the ball. Kaepernick had 16 of 28 passing for 302 yards, and both Crabtree and Davis exceeded 100 receiving yards. Gore, after being stuffed in the first half, finished with 110 yards rushing, but that is deceiving given how ineffective he was in the first half.
This now makes three years in a row where either a five or a six seed has won the Super Bowl. What with all the muss and fuss that goes into wishing the Patriots would get a bye week whenever they make the playoffs (and in all three of their Super Bowl wins, they were either the one or the two seed), it's the lower seeds which have been doing better as of late. The Patriots are the last AFC one seed to win a Super Bowl (XXXVIII). It makes it exasperating for these teams who do well in the regular season but run up against hot teams in the postseason who play just well enough to qualify for the playoffs and then sneak up and shank better teams in the playoffs.
So, John beats Jim again. Jim will move on, while John gets his first ring as head coach. The first Super brother battle is over. Great game, befitting the occasion.
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