Ravens rally to win Super Bowl
On Sunday night, the Baltimore Ravens won their second Super Bowl in franchise history, defeating the San Francisco 49ers by a score of 34-31 at the Superdome. It was a game that could have been the biggest comeback in NFL history, but ultimately it was too little, too late for a San Francisco squad that dominated the second half. At one point the 49ers were down 22 points, but with less than five minutes remaining, it was anyone’s game.
Early in the first quarter, everything was going Baltimore’s way. The Ravens benefited from an illegal formation penalty, and the 49ers were forced into long situations during their first drive. The ensuing punt gave Joe Flacco excellent field position and he threw a beautiful touchdown pass to receiver Anquan Boldin to give them a 7-0 lead.
San Francisco’s second drive was a complete change from its first. Relying on their varied ground attack, the 49ers got within the 10-yard line, however, the offense that ran through the Ravens’ defense stalled and they had to resort to a David Akers field goal, trailing 7-3.
With just under ten minutes in the first half, Baltimore extended its lead to 14-3 following a Flacco pass to Dennis Pitta.
On the following drive, Colin Kaepernick made a terrible mistake, as he forced a pass and tried to do too much. Overthrowing wide receiver Randy Moss, it was Ed Reed who spoiled the play as he picked off the pass.
As the half came to a close, the Ravens weren’t going to settle for a simple 11-point lead. With just under two minutes left on the clock, Flacco heaved a pass deep and found a streaking Jacoby Jones who burnt 49ers’ Chris Culliver. He avoided near-disaster by catching the pass while falling, and followed that up by regaining his footing, spinning away from a defender, and diving into the end zone.
After halftime, the 49ers needed to turn it around quickly. With the Ravens receiving the kickoff, they needed their defense to work overtime. Like a bolt of lightning, Jones was gone, returning the second-half kickoff for a touchdown. The Ravens led by 22 and it looked like too much for the 49ers to overcome, and then the lights went out.
Half the lights in the Superdome went dark, then all of them. For over 34 minutes, half the stadium was without power. Players did their best on the field to stay loose and stretch, while the TV crew created an impromptu post-halftime, offering analysis and highlights of the game up to that point.
When the lights came back on, there was a change in the pace of the game and the 49ers had a new-found sense of urgency. Kaepernick orchestrated a pass-heavy drive that found Michael Crabtree on a crossing route that put the ball between two defenders and resulted in a touchdown. Following that, a stalled Baltimore drive and a short punt gave San Francisco the perfect opportunity, and one the 49ers didn’t squander. With a touchdown on the ground from Frank Gore, it was now an eight-point game, and the Ravens had lost all their early momentum.
It went from bad, to worse. On Baltimore’s next drive, running back Ray Rice fumbled the ball following a short catch, turning it over to San Francisco. Baltimore looked like a defeated team, despite having the lead. The once-demoralized 49ers had a new lease on life and while they were unable to score a touchdown on their third consecutive drive, they were able to make a field goal and make it a five-point game.
Much like San Francisco in the first half, Baltimore had a long drive, only to stall short and settle for a short field goal. The lead was back at eight points, with just under 13 minutes to play.
If the first half was the Baltimore Ravens’ show, the second was San Francisco’s: a deep completion to Moss, two runs by Gore, and the 49ers were back in scoring range. Kaepernick ran up the left side of the field with extreme haste, scoring a 15-yard rushing touchdown, it was the longest running touchdown by a quarterback in Super Bowl history. Still, Baltimore held a two-point lead.
While the 49ers tried to exert their will, ultimately it was the veteran Ravens who held strong. The Lombardi Trophy is their reward.