So close and yet so far.
The Baltimore Ravens managed to hold off the surging San Francisco 49ers by a final of 34-31. Colin Kaepernick lead the 49ers down field for one last shot in the end zone with under two minutes remaining and failed to convert a 4th goal pass intended for Michael Crabtree in the back corner of the end zone.
“I think that last drive when we got the ball and had time to go down and score a touchdown, we thought it was our game,” Kaepernick said afterwards.
The Ravens then killed all but 4 seconds of the clock with the subsequent drive ending in a safety in which punter Sam Koch ran it out of the end zone. The following punt ended with Ted Ginn Jr. getting tackled as time expired leaving the Ravens as the victor.
“Our guys battled back to get back in,” 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said. “I thought we battled right to the brink of winning.”
Ray Lewis ends his 17 year career with a 2nd Super Bowl ring, other being earned in early 2001. This career ending sendoff came in a season where he had to come back from from a triceps injury sustained in October not making his return until the beginning of the postseason when the Ravens played the visiting Indianapolis Colts in the Wild Card round.
“It’s no greater way, as a champ, to go out on your last ride with the men that I went out with, with my teammates,” Lewis said. “And you looked around this stadium and Baltimore! Baltimore! We coming home, baby! We did it!”
Baltimore coach John Harbaugh now has a 2-0 coaching record against his younger brother Jim Harbaugh. The first meeting between the two brother occurred on Thanksgiving day 2011.
“How could it be any other way? It’s never pretty. It’s never perfect. But it’s us,” John said afterwards. “It was us today.”
On the flip side, this is San Francisco’s first loss in the Super Bowl making them 5-1 in the big game.
“I really wanted it for us,” 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis said. “I wanted to bring it back to the Bay… We came up short. We were there and we came up short.”
The 49ers were down by as many as 22 points early in the 3rd quarter. Momentum seemed to turn around after a power outage in the 3rd quarter. The outage lasted over a half hour. San Francisco then managed to score 17 consecutive points to finish the quarter.
In part because of the power outage, it was the longest Super Bowl in history timed at 4 hours, 14 minutes.
Baltimore managed to recover a bit in the 4th quarter scoring two field goals by Justin Tucker. Tucker tried a fake field goal run earlier in the game that failed to convert a first down near the 49ers end zone.
Kaepernick scored a 15 yard touchdown run in between those Tucker field goals but a poor pass to Randy Moss failed to convert a two point conversion that would’ve tied the game at 31-31. Kaepernick finished the game with 62 rushing yards. Through the air, Colin went 16/28 for 302 passing yards, a 31 touchdown pass to Michael Crabtree, and an interception thrown to Ed Reed in the 2nd quarter. It was the first interception ever thrown by a San Francisco quarterback in the Super Bowl.
As for Crabtree, he finished the game with 5 catches for 109 receiving and the one touchdown. Vernon Davis finished the game just 5 yards shy of him with 104 receiving yards in 6 catches.
The star of the night was Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco who shined predominantly in the first half of the game. Flacco went 22/33 for 287 passing yards and three touchdown passes, all of which came in the first half. Flacco finishes the postseason with 11 touchdown passes, no interceptions thrown, and as Super Bowl MVP.
“People should shut up about Joe,” said Ravens receiver Anquan Boldin. “I’m so sick of people saying Joe’s not an elite quarterback. For all the critics who say he’s not, ask them how many rings they have.”
Anquan Boldin also had a fine game with 6 catches for 104 yards and one touchdown off a 13 yard pass from Joe Flacco in the first quarter. It was the first score of the game for either team and it came on Baltimore first possession.
Another star for the Ravens was Jacoby Jones who made one of those Flacco touchdown catches on a 56 yard catch in which he fell down and got back up to get into the end zone. Jones out did that, however, on a 108 yard kick off return for a touchdown to start the 2nd half. It was the Ravens only touchdown of the half and it proved to be a difference maker.
The 49ers ground game was fine but it could’ve gone better. Frank Gore ran for 110 yards on 19 carries and a six yard touchdown run in the third quarter. The 49ers, however, may have missed Kendall Hunter in this one. 2nd back and rookie LaMichael James fumbled the ball early in the 2nd quarter which was recovered by Baltimore defensive end Arthur Jones. The subsequent Ravens drive lead to a one yard touchdown pass to Dennis Pitta to them up by 11.
As for Baltimore’s ground game, they were not efficient against San Francisco’s defense getting only 93 yards on 35 carries. Ray Rice carried the ball 20 times for just 59 yards. Rice, however, had a fumble in the 3rd quarter which resulted in a 34 yard David Akers’ field goal.
Akers would make two other field goals in the first half of play. One in the first quarter from 36 yards out and the other to end the first half from 27 yards out. Akers accounted for all of San Francisco’s 6 first half points while Baltimore was on top by 15.
In overall numbers, San Francisco had 468 total offensive yards while Baltimore had 367. The Ravens had the ball a bit longer controlling it for just over 32 minutes of the game. The 49ers also had six red zone attempts only converting twice for touchdowns.
Inexperience showed for San Francisco against the veteran squad of Baltimore. With the team around them, however, there is always next year.
“We will use this as fuel,” 49ers safety Donte Whitner said. “It’s tough getting shoved off the field, watching the other team celebrate. We’ll be better from this. We’ll be back.”
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Written by Daniel Trucios