You had to see it to believe it.
The Baltimore Ravens won their second Super Bowl in a thriller, 34–31 over the slightly favored San Francisco 49ers in a game that had everything—including a 34-minute stoppage due to partial power outage in the third quarter.
The Ravens had taken a commanding 28–6 lead early in the third quarter before half of the Superdome’s lights went out. When the lights came back on, it was all San Francisco as they stormed back to within two points early in the fourth quarter.
But MVP, and for the record—elite quarterback—Joe Flacco, settled things down, chewed up plenty of clock with some long drives, and Baltimore hung on for the win.
In this postseason, Flacco threw for 11 touchdowns (including 3 in the Super Bowl) with no interceptions. His 11 TD passes tied the record held by Joe Montana (1989) and Kurt Warner (2008) for most by any player in a single postseason.
The game was a game of ups and downs, changes in momentum, and brilliant plays—mostly from the Ravens. The 49ers were guilty of making more mistakes—turnovers and costly penalties.
The Ravens capitalized on their first possession after starting at their own 49-yard line. Facing a 3rd-and-9, the 49ers were penalized for being offside, giving Flacco another shot at converting on third down. Flacco found Anquan Boldin for a 13-yard touchdown pass down the middle and the Ravens would never relinquish the lead—although it did get close.
San Francisco’s problems began with a slightly tentative Colin Kaepernick who took a while to settle in. This is of course understandable given that it was only his 10th game as an NFL quarterback. The 49ers missed opportunities to put touchdowns on the board from red zone presences, until the third quarter.
The Ravens looked confident on offense and their defense came up big in creating a turnover from San Francisco running back LaMichael James early in the second quarter.
Flacco then got tight end Ed Dixon involved with two key catches. The drive ended with Flacco finding another tight end, Dennis Pitta, for a 1-yard TD catch.
On the next 49ers’ possession, Kaepernick uncharacteristically overthrew Randy Moss and his wobbling pass was picked off by Ravens veteran safety Ed Reed.
On their ensuing possession, with the Ravens facing fourth down and the field goal unit on to kick a 32-yarder, head coach John Harbaugh opted to fake the field goal and run for the first down. Kicker Justin Tucker missed it by one yard, but that was an option the Baltimore coach was prepared to live with as he had confidence in his defense with the 49ers pinned inside their 10-yard line.
On Baltimore’s next possession, Flacco connected with Jacoby Jones for one of his two spectacular touchdowns on the day. On 3rd-and-10 from their own 44-yard line, Flacco threw a deep ball, which Jones adjusted to while the San Francisco secondary was completely out to lunch. Jones stunned the 49ers with his 56-yard catch-and-run score giving the Ravens a 21–6 lead at halftime.
To start the second half, Jones returned the opening kickoff 108 yards for the score, tying the NFL record for longest return touchdown. All of a sudden the 49ers were down 28–6.
But then things changed when half the lights in the Louisiana Superdome went out. No explanation was provided during the game by the NFL for the interruption in power, but when all was said and done, 34 minutes had elapsed between San Francisco’s second and third down plays.
When the Ravens finally got back on offense, it had been 84 minutes of actual time since they had last run a play. The rust showed as their next two series on offense ended meekly with Sam Koch punting.
Meanwhile, Kaepernick had come to life and drove the 49ers down the field mixing in 20 yards of his own rushing with 58 yards of passing to three different receivers. The drive culminated in a 31-yard catch-and-run TD for Michael Crabtree.
The Niners tacked on another TD just over two minutes later when running back Frank Gore scampered six yards.
The momentum continued to build for the Niners when the normally sure-handed Ray Rice fumbled in the flat after making a reception and Tarell Brown recovered.David Akers kicked a 34-yard field goal bringing San Francisco to within five of the Ravens 28–23.
Ravens Back on Track
As the third quarter came to a close, the Ravens began to reestablish themselves on offense and they stemmed the San Francisco tide with a Tucker field goal. Nevertheless, the 49ers were still just a TD with a two-point conversion away from tying the game.
But the closest San Francisco would get was two points. On their next possession, Kaepernick showed what makes him so special. He found Randy Moss with a beautifully thrown ball for 32 yards. Then a hand-off to Gore led to a 21-yard gain.
Kaepernick capped it off with a 15-yard TD run down the left sideline. The TD run was the longest by a quarterback in Super Bowl history. The two-point conversion failed.
When the Ravens got the ball back, they embarked on their second consecutive drive chewing up over five minutes of clock, lasting for 10 or more plays. The Ravens went 59 yards before Tucker kicked his second field goal of the game.
With the Ravens now leading 34–29 and just over four minutes left for the 49ers, anything was still possible.
From their own 20-yard line, Kaepernick drove the Niners 75 yards, but the drive stalled on the Baltimore 5-yard line. Three straight plays, Kaepernick was unable to find his receiver.
On 4th-and-Goal from the 5-yard line, Kaepernick looked for Crabtree in a hurry due to the pressure he was under. When the ball sailed incomplete, San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh was adamant that Ravens defender Jimmy Smith held Crabtree, but no flag was thrown.
In the end, the Ravens yielded a safety to take more time off the clock and win their second Super Bowl.
Super Bowl XLVII was a high-scoring thriller that defied the predictions of most pundits of a low scoring game. In fact, it was only the second championship game in NFL history in which each team scored 30 or more points.
Remarkably, San Francisco lost its first Super Bowl in six attempts.
Follow Rahul on Twitter @RV_ETSports
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