ABOVE PHOTO: Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis (52) holds a newspaper and the Vince Lombardi Trophy as he celebrates after defeating the San Francisco 49ers.
(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report
So what did we learn in the aftermath of the Baltimore Ravens thrilling 34-31 win over the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII?
One–it is now safe to say that Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco is one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks. In Super Bowl XLVII, Flacco passed for 287 yards and three touchdowns passes and was named the game’s Most Valuable Player.
Also, on his way to the Super Bowl, Flacco beat several quarterbacks that are already recognized as elite including former league MVPs Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. He also beat Andrew Luck, the No.1 pick in the 2012 NFL draft.
If you’re still not convinced that Flacco is that dude or at the very least well on his way to becoming that dude, you need to consider that in the 2012 postseason, Flacco tossed 11 touchdown passes without an interception which ties Joe Montana and Kurt Warner for the most in a single postseason without a pick.
“One of the things is that without question he’s a big-game performer,” said Ravens offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell. “My old high school basketball coach used to always say cream will always rise to the top and that’s Joe.”
Flacco is the only quarterback in the Super Bowl era to play in four playoff games without tossing an interception. He has won seven career playoff games on the road including this last Super Bowl. It is the most road wins by a starting quarterback in NFL history. Flacco has a better record (9-4) in the postseason than Peyton Manning (9-11), whom he beat in the divisional playoff round.
“Joe is one of those guys that the bigger the game the better he plays and I think that you’re going to see that continue throughout his career,” Caldwell said.
Flacco is currently in negotiations with the Ravens for a new contract. To quote Hall-of-Fame cornerback and NFL Network analyst, Deion Sanders: “Pay that man!”
Two–Colin Kaepernick and the read option are here to stay despite losing in the Super Bowl. Yes, he had a slow start, but Kaepernick still played his butt off, especially in the second half. Kaepernick and the 49ers offense shredded the Ravens defense for 468 yards of total offense-including 182 yards rushing.
With his team down by 22 points, Kaepernick brought the Niners back using a combination of the pass and the running game with Frank Gore and LaMichael James in the Pistol offense.
Gore, who would finish the game with 110 yards rushing and a touchdown, had two runs of 20-plus yards including a big 33-yard run that put ball deep in Baltimore territory late in the game from that read-option offense.
Kaepernick was 16-of-28 for 302 yards and one touchdown. He also ran the ball seven times for 62 yards including a record-breaking 15-yard touchdown run, the longest in Super Bowl history by a quarterback. Not bad for a guy with just 10 starts in his brief career.
On their final drive of the game, the 49ers, in the Pistol formation, drove through a tired Ravens defense from their own 20-yard line to the Baltimore five. One of the big plays on that drive was Gore’s big 33-yard run to the Ravens 7. A two-yard gain by James moved the ball to the five with about two minutes left.
This leads us to No. 3-Never get away from what’s working. On the 49ers remaining three downs of the game, they passed the ball on three straight plays and came up short.
You would have thought with Kaepernick’s running ability and the way Gore was crashing through the Ravens defense that head coach Jim Harbaugh or offensive coordinator Greg Roman would have called a play with one of them running the ball.
“I always thought they were going to run. I really did. All of those pressures were called for the run, not the pass,” said Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees.
A quarterback draw or a designed run by Kaepernick from the Pistol or just giving it to Gore on the same option plays that got them into the red zone in the first place.
“We could’ve ran on them all day,” Gore said. “We called plays that we thought that was good, and things didn’t happen.”
No. 4-This was one hell of a Super Bowl. This game had just about everything including several interesting storylines. You had the Harbaugh brothers-John and Jim matching wits against one another.
You had Flacco cementing his claim as a top-notch quarterback with an MVP-performance.
Beyonce’s performance at halftime, which included the reunion of Destiny’s Child, was a showstopper within a showstopper.
There was a 35-minute delay of the because of the power outage in the Mercedes Benz Superdome. I don’t pretend to know what caused it, but I suspect that origins of this outage came from a Buffalo Wild Wings in San Francisco where a 49ers fan sent a text to an electrician friend at the Superdome to shut the power down to stop Baltimore’s momentum.
Just kidding, but the Super Bowl power outage would make a great commercial for Buffalo Wild Wings.
The incredible performance by Ravens receiver and kick returner Jacoby Jones, who caught a 56-yard touchdown pass that will go down as one of the great plays in Super Bowl history. Jones caught the ball falling to the ground at about the 49ers seven-yard line. He got up, put a move on a Niners defender and sped past another for the touchdown.
As a kick returner, Jones opened the second half with an electrifying, Super Bowl record 108-yard kickoff return. To paraphrase a Baltimore Sun reporter, Jones will never want for a drink in Baltimore for the rest of his life.
There was also the 49ers valiant comeback from a 28-6 deficit in the third quarterback, led by Kaepernick, who is going to be a star in this league for a good long time barring injury.
Ray Lewis ends an incredible 17-year career with his second Super Bowl ring.
San Francisco’s comeback fell short on what was a controversial non- pass interference call on Michael Crabtree who locked horns with Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith in the end zone as Kaepernick’s pass on fourth down sailed over both players’ heads.
Was it holding or pass interference against Baltimore or a good non-call by the officials? It will be debated for a long time.
And last, but not least, Ray Lewis ending his storied career on an incredible goal-line stand by the Ravens defense. It was a fitting end for arguably one of the best middle linebackers to ever play the game.