Ravens' win won't soon be forgotten
John Clayton [ARCHIVE]
ESPN.com
February 4, 2013
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NEW ORLEANS -- In every way imaginable, both literally and figuratively, Super Bowl XLVII was "lights out."

The Baltimore Ravens survived a 34-minute third-quarter power outage and a furious comeback attempt by the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday to claim their second NFL championship, winning 34-31 in one of history's most memorable Super Bowls.

Thanks to a postseason-record 108-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Jacoby Jones to start the second half, the Ravens led 28-6 when the main power went out in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome with 13:28 left in the third quarter.

More than a half-hour later, the restoration of power seemed to re-energize the 49ers. They outscored the Ravens 23-3 over a span of 12:23 (including 17 straight points during one four-minute stretch in the third quarter) to cut the lead to 31-29 with 9:57 left in the game. The Ravens responded with another field goal, but the Niners had the ball at the Baltimore 5 with two minutes left and a chance to win the franchise's sixth Super Bowl.

But three incomplete passes by Colin Kaepernick -- all targeted toward Michael Crabtree, and one that came with controversy -- ended the 49ers' bid, handing the Ravens and Ray Lewis their second Super Bowl ring since the franchise moved from Cleveland to Baltimore.

The controversial play came on fourth down from the Ravens' 5. Kaepernick launched a high-arching fade toward Crabtree in the right corner of the end zone. There was contact between Crabtree and Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith, who first grabbed the 49ers wideout as he was running his route near the goal line -- which is legal. Smith continued to hold Crabtree as he crossed into the end zone, but there was no penalty called.

"That's holding," 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh screamed from the sidelines, to no avail.

For the second consecutive year, the 49ers' season ended on a crazy play. Last year, it was a Kyle Williams fumble on a return. This year, a potential Super Bowl victory was 5 yards away for the 49ers, a team that looked as focused as any I've seen during the hype of Super Bowl week.

For the Ravens, though, the victory was historic. Quarterback Joe Flacco was masterful behind center and won game MVP honors. Lewis ended his 17-year career with his second Super Bowl victory. Superb safety Ed Reed made yet another postseason interception and numerous big plays.

And, of course, there was the power interruption. As officials scrambled to restore the lighting and scoreboard functionality in the Superdome, coaches didn't know if on-field and pressbox communication systems were going to work. At one point, Ravens coach John Harbaugh argued with officials over what would and would not be allowed.

"Both teams had to deal with it," Harbaugh said. "I thought [the 49ers] dealt with it better, obviously. They were able to turn the momentum of the game."

What else did we learn from Super Bowl XLVII? Here are 10 things:

1. Flacco isn't just an elite quarterback, he's going to be among the richest: Talk about contract leverage. Flacco is 9-4 in the playoffs  since coming into the league five years ago. He has been to three conference championship games, and now he has a Super Bowl ring. What a year to be a free agent. His agent, Joe Linta, can continue to make the case his client should get upward of $20 million a year. Flacco now has as many Super Bowl rings as Peyton Manning and Drew Brees, who make $19.2 million and $20 million a year, respectively.

Ravens ownership has vowed not to let Flacco leave via free agency. It can either place the franchise tag on him or give him one of the most lucrative contracts in NFL history.

Flacco completed one of the greatest Super Bowl runs for a quarterback. He tied a postseason record with 11 touchdown passes (over four games), matching Arizona's Kurt Warner (2008) and San Francisco's Joe Montana (1989). Flacco completed 22 of 33 passes for 287 yards and three touchdowns in the Super Bowl. For the playoffs, he completed 73 of 126 attempts for 1,140 yards -- and, perhaps most important, no interceptions.

"It's unbelievable," Flacco said. "We don't make it easy. & That's the way we are."

2. The non-call on Smith shouldn't be a surprise: Though the decision was controversial, the NFL gave Jerome Boger the chance to referee the Super Bowl even though he didn't have a conference championship game on his resume, which is against the norm.

Boger had a reasonably clean game, but his history is to let players play. He and his crew called 13.8 penalties a game during the regular season, which is slightly below the league average. On Sunday, Boger and the assembled officiating team called the Ravens for just two penalties for 20 yards, and the 49ers for five penalties for 33 yards. Though Smith's hold on Crabtree seemed obvious, officials don't always make that call. Jim Harbaugh clearly disagreed.

3. Lewis' last ride was special: John Harbaugh said it best after Lewis' incredible career ended with the Ravens' goal-line stand in the final two minutes: "How can it be any other way?" This wasn't Lewis' greatest game. There were times in the first half in which the veteran LB struggled in pass coverage. But winning pretty wasn't the goal -- just winning was.

Lewis wanted his teammates to experience the thrill of a Super Bowl victory, saying, "I wanted to see their faces when that confetti came out of the sky." Asked which was his best moment, Lewis responded that it was seeing that confetti stream from the Superdome's ceiling.

During Lewis' first Super Bowl victory, the Ravens were dominating on defense, crushing the New York Giants 34-7 in Super Bowl XXXV. In contrast, the Ravens' defense gave up 468 yards of offense and 31 points to the 49ers. "It wasn't pretty, it wasn't pretty," John Harbaugh said. "But it was us."

What was it like for Lewis, walking off the field as a champion in his final game? "How else can you finish that off but with a goal-line stand?" Lewis said. "How else can you finish a Super Bowl off when your coordinator [Dean Pees] trusts the way he trusts, and we finished it off? We kept them out of the end zone. That is championship football."

4. The Ravens won the two biggest matchups of the game: Start with Ravens left tackle Bryant McKinnie and left guard Kelechi Osemele containing 49ers defensive end Justin Smith and linebacker Aldon Smith. Both Smiths were nonfactors. Justin Smith had just three tackles, and Aldon Smith played even worse -- he had one tackle, one assist and only one quarterback hit. He now has six straight games without a sack. McKinnie didn't get a chance to start until the first game of the playoffs, but his 350-pound presence slowed down the San Francisco pass-rushers. Baltimore's offensive line also strengthened when Michael Oher shifted to right...
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