By Brandon Niles Explorebigsky.com Sports Columnist
The Baltimore Ravens defeated the San Francisco 49ers in the 47th annual Super Bowl on Feb. 3, 2013. It was a higher-scoring game than expected – each team is known for their defensive prowess – but the Ravens held on to win 34-31 despite a late surge by the 49ers.
Quarterback Joe Flacco got the Ravens off to a hot start, hooking up with receiver Anquan Boldin for a touchdown on the Ravens’ first drive. Flacco threw two more touchdown passes in the second quarter, including a 56-yard bomb to Jacoby Jones. Flacco methodically moved the Ravens into scoring position twice in the fourth quarter to keep the 49ers at bay, finished with 287 yards and three touchdowns, and completed 67 percent of his throws. Most importantly, Flacco avoided turnovers, and was awarded the Super Bowl MVP award for his performance.
In addition to Jones’ long touchdown reception, he returned the opening kickoff in the second half 108 yards for a touchdown, putting the Ravens up 28-6. Just when all signs pointed to a Ravens blowout, in a bizarre turn of events, the lights went out in the stadium, halting play for more than thirty minutes.
When the lights came back on, the momentum of the game shifted and the 49ers seemed to come alive. In the third quarter, they scored 17 unanswered points and cut the Ravens’ lead from 22 to five. But the 49ers failed to convert on a fourth and goal late in the game, giving the ball back to the Ravens with less than two minutes left. The Ravens burned most of the clock and the 49ers couldn’t return a final kick in the closing seconds to prevent a Baltimore win.
San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh, trailing the entire game to older brother John’s Ravens, was his usual fiery self on the sidelines and was critical of the officiating after the game. John made shrewd coaching decisions throughout the game, including taking a safety in the closing seconds in order to use up time on the clock and limit the potential of a 49ers comeback.
The quarterbacks performed as expected in many ways. Flacco played like the veteran he is, cool and collected from the pocket, executing each play surgically and catapulting himself into the discussion of top players at his position. Meanwhile, 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick revealed his inexperience, struggling early and throwing a key interception to veteran safety Ed Reed. Kaepernick came alive late and finished the game with a 15-yard touchdown run, but ultimately came up short.
These two teams should remain dominant for a long time. Both coaches are young and talented, and the quarterbacks are as well. The 49ers and Ravens are superb examples of how to build a football team: draft well, develop talent and play good defense. With the stability this success has earned them, these two teams should continue to thrive in the coming years.
For now, the Ravens can reflect on a tremendously successful year, one that culminated in an amazing run through the playoffs. The Ravens beat both Peyton Manning and Tom Brady on the road, and Joe Flacco stepped up and delivered in the biggest game of his career.
The Super Bowl is always an exciting, yet somber moment for me. It’s the biggest event in my favorite sport, but it’s also the final event of the season, and now I begin the long wait for September.
Until next season, congratulations to the Ravens!