“We have a band of brothers. We love each other. When you love each other, you’ll do anything for your guys.”
Those words from running back Ray Rice helped describe how the Baltimore Ravens defied the odds and the skeptics to beat the Sah Francisco 49ers.
In a lot of ways the Ravens were the ultimate “Band of Brothers”. Three straight weeks, the Ravens knocked off favoured teams to become Super Bowl champions.
The Ravens had to overcome a lot just to get to the Super Bowl and it was fitting that they had to overcome a 34-minute delay because of a power outage in the stadium.
The 49ers came to life after play resumed and scored 25 points once the lights came back on. But much like they have done all year, the Ravens found a way to make the plays they needed in order to win the game.
I can’t remember the last time there was a championship game that was in danger of being a boring blowout that ended up in such a dramatic and thrilling finish.
The game was not about Ray Lewis’ final game or the Harbaugh brothers; it was about the ‘Band of Brothers’ holding off a furious comeback attempt.
Ravens safety Ed Reed played a brilliant game and his emotional words after the game perfectly summed up Super Bowl 47 and the Ravens season in general.
“I’m just so grateful. I’m grateful, man. It’s bittersweet because we’ve been through a lot. We’ve been through a lot as men and as a team.”
But for men like Reed, Joe Flacco, Ray Rice and John Harbaugh, they will forever be known as world champions; and nobody can ever take that away from them.
STAR OF THE GAME:
In a game that looked like it might be a blowout, there ended up being a number of impressive performances by both teams. Kaepernick settled down after a rough start and made some great plays after the power was restored at the Superdome.
For a quarterback only making his 10th start in the NFL, Kaepernick was not the reason the 49ers lost the game. As he gains more experience and matures as a quarterback, he will only get better and is a big reason why the 49ers will be a serious contender in the NFC for the foreseeable future.
Ravens receiver/returner Jacoby Jones ended up with a whopping 290 combined yards and two touchdowns. Jones also set a new Super Bowl record with his 108-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to begin the second half.
And then there was the unstoppable Anquan Boldin. Just as he’s done throughout the entire post-season, Boldin was the receiver the Ravens looked to when they absolutely needed to get a first down.
All the aforementioned players were special in their own way, but the star of the game has been the star of the Ravens throughout the entire playoffs; Joe Flacco.
Facing one of the best defences in the NFL, Flacco calmly picked apart the 49ers secondary as he tossed three touchdowns in the first half.
After the game linebacker Terrell Suggs left little doubt how he and the rest of the Ravens,feel about Flacco.
“I told you,” Suggs told reporters.”That’s my quarterback. The boy’s been doing it. He did it all in the playoffs, and his play is the reason we are champions.”
Indeed it is. Flacco’s performance Sunday capped off one of the best post-season runs by a quarterback you will ever see.
During the post-season, Flacco threw 11 touchdowns, zero interceptions and had a passer rating over 100 in all four games.
While this game marked the end of Lewis’ remarkable career, it also marked the highest point of the “Flacco” era in Baltimore. Flacco is the face of the Ravens now and he has the pedigree and the Super Bowl ring to back it up.
STIFF OF THE GAME:
Chris Culliver and the 49ers secondary should take a blow torch to the game film of Super Bowl XLVII.
While many observers, myself included, thought the 49ers secondary could be exploited by Flacco and the Ravens passing game, nobody thought they would be quite this bad.
Culliver looked particularly bad on Jacoby Jones’ 56-yard touchdown.
Then if that wasn’t enough, he looked just as bad on a crucial sideline throw to Boldin.
Needless to say the 49ers will be looking to upgrade their secondary in the off-season, especially at cornerback.
On a defence filled with star players like Lewis and Reed, the relatively unknown Arthur Jones stepped up and played a big role in the Ravens victory.
Jones, the older brother of UFC champion Jon Jones, was a force along the Ravens defensive line all night long. He ended up with one sack, two quarterback hits, two tackles and one crucial fumble recovery.
Jones’ recovery of a LaMichael James fumble in the second quarter allowed Flacco to steal a crucial possession where he hit tight end Dennis Pitta in the end zone on a one-yard touchdown pass.
There is no doubt that the Ravens goal line stand at the end of the fourth quarter turned out huge. But it would not have been possible had the Ravens scored enough points to force the 49ers to a score a touchdown late.
With all of the momentum on the 49ers side after the black out, the Ravens desperately needed the offence to put a scoring drive together. They needed the points and more importantly, they needed to give Ray Lewis and the defence a rest.
The ultimate turning point took place mid-way through the fourth quarter when Boldin out jumped 49ers cornerback Carlos Rogers to make an incredible catch along the sideline.
On a 3rd-and-1, Flacco called an audible at the line of scrimmage then heaved it towards the sideline in the direction of Boldin, who jumped higher than Rogers and overpowered him as he twisted his body and came down with the crucial catch that resulted in a first down.
Six plays later, Justin Tucker nailed a 38-yard field goal to give the Ravens a 34-29 lead.
Boldin ended his amazing post-season leading all receivers with 22 catches for 380 yards, four touchdowns and 19 first downs.
According to the Associated Press, the Ravens offence went a stretch of 84 minutes when they were off the field. A combination of the elongated Beyonce half-time show, the Jacoby Jones kickoff return for a touchdown and the blackout conspired to keep them sitting on the sideline for close to an hour and a half in the middle of the game.
It might be a long, long time before referee Jerome Boger and his crew is invited to officiate a Super Bowl again. Boger and his crew struggled all night with questionable calls that went against both teams.
The most egregious took place on the 49ers final throw late in the fourth quarter. Michael Crabtree was held on the play and the officials either missed the call or chose not to make it.
While I would have preferred to see either Rush, AC/DC, Motley Crue or Iron Maiden perform at half-time (That’s just me), Beyonce did a fine job on Sunday.
My two pre-teen daughters thought it was “awesome” so I will have to go along with them and agree it was a good show. I really hope they hire Bon Jovi to play next year in New Jersey.
The Ravens have their Super Bowl parade taking place Tuesday in Baltimore. The annual NFL combine is scheduled to begin Feb. 20 in Indianapolis and then free agency will kick off on Mar. 12.
Super Bowl 48 (XLVIII if you prefer) is set to go Feb. 2, 2014 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.