Ravens win Super Bowl against 49ers in electrifying fashion
Dandy Don Meredith didn’t mean it literally.
The late, great Monday Night Football commentator would sing “Turn out the liiiiiiiights, the party’s over!” in the ’70s and ’80s once the leading team pretty much sealed the deal.
In Super Bowl XLVII on Sunday night, the deal appeared to be sealed when Baltimore’s blazing-fast wide receiver and kick returner, Jacoby Jones, returned the second-half kickoff 108 yards for a touchdown.
That gave the Ravens a commanding 28-6 lead over San Francisco 49ers.
But this game wasn’t over.
It was just powering up – only after electricity at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome powered down.
At 7:36 p.m. local time, shortly after Jones’ dynamic kick return, power died to about two-thirds of the overhead lights died, to the scoreboards, to the press boxes, to the Internet service and to most of the PA speakers.
After a surreal 34-minute delay, the game resumed – and momentum flipped like a flapjack at a French Quarter breakfast nook.
The Niners offence – which had so befuddled and shredded both the Green Bay Packers and Atlanta Falcons earlier in the playoffs – finally found the power-on switch.
But it was too late.
The Ravens withstood the furious rally spearheaded by dazzling young Niners quarterback Colin Kaepernick and won the Super Bowl, 34-31, before 71,024 fans.
“Every game we’ve been the underdogs, and every game we’ve won,” Baltimore linebacker Terrell Suggs said.
“Baltimore, charm city, we’ve brought it home!”
Despite all the touchdowns that were scored, a 38-yard field goal from rookie kicker Justin Tucker with 4:19 left in the game was crucial. It gave the Ravens a 34-29 cushion.
Kaepernick then had to lead the Niners on a touchdown drive to win, not a field goal. He indeed led the Niners right down the field, to the Baltimore five-yard line, thanks largely to a 33-yard run by Frank Gore.
But the Ravens defence – inspired by retiring linebacker Ray Lewis – held firm. Kaepernick threw three incompletions. Then on the decisive fourth down, with 1:50 left, the Niners’ hopes died when Kaepernick threw incomplete to Michael Crabtree.
It appeared Baltimore defensive back Jimmy Smith impeded Crabtree’s progress in the end zone, but no flag for pass interference was thrown.
“It was nothing new for us,” Suggs said of the long-to-be-remembered goal-line stand. “We’re in those types of battles. We just stayed together. We had to win four plays.”
How fitting was it indeed that Lewis’ Hall-of-Fame, 17-year career ended with a goal-line stand?
The Ravens then ran three plays to bleed the clock. On fourth down, punter Sam Koch danced across the back of the end zone before stepping out of bounds for a safety with four seconds left.
That narrowed Baltimore’s lead to 34-31.
One play remained. Koch punted to Ted Ginn Jr., and the Niners’ speedy kick returner could bring the ball back only to midfield. Jubilant Ravens players then spilled onto the field in wild celebration.
“You know what the turning point of the game was,” Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said. “When we covered the kick on the last play.”
For all the second-half drama, this game really was decided in the first half when the Ravens were by far the better team.
Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco stuffed socks permanently in the mouths of his detractors. He proved Sunday night he is indeed an elite NFL quarterback.
In the first half Flacco was spectacular, completing 13-of-20 first-half passes for three touchdowns and 192 yards.
John Harbaugh’s Ravens played like a team of calm, confident veterans – thanks to Flacco – while brother Jim Harbaugh’s Niners made mistakes repeatedly: broken plays, a fumble, a bad Kaepernick interception and almost a second one on an equally bad throw.
On a third-and-10 from the Ravens 44-yard line just after the two-minute warning, Flacco hit Jones inside the San Fran 10. Jones was so alone, though, he got up and outraced a Niner safety across the face of the end zone before diving in for the score.
“(I feel like) a million dollars!” said Jones, whose touchdowns were 56 and 108 yards in length.
Niners kicker David Akers booted a 26-yard field goal to end the half with the Ravens ahead 21-6.
One possession after the power finally was restored to the dome in the third quarter, the Niners offence finally booted up – in a blur of a flurry.
Kaepernick hit wide receiver Michael Crabtree for a 31-yard touchdown, Gore scored on a six-yard delayed counter and Akers kicked a 34-yard field goal, all of which narrowed Baltimore’s lead to 28-23, with 3:10 still left in the third.
The Ravens then gathered themselves and Flacco calmly drove the team for a 19-yard Tucker field goal and a 31-23 lead with 12:54 remaining.
Kaepernick kept his hot second-half hand going. He scored a touchdown on a beautiful 15-yard scramble from the pocket around left end.
Trailing 31-29, with 9:57 left, the Niners went for two and the tie. Veteran safety Ed Reed, who might have played his last game and who earlier had an interception, blitzed Kaepernick from his left side and forced an early throw from the 25-year-old – incomplete.
Then came Tucker’s clutch field goal, and the Niners’ final desperation drive, which came up five yards – and ultimately three points – short.
Was that a hold on the Niners' last play?