Destiny’s Child didn’t just take center stage at the halftime show, they walked away with the Vince Lombardi trophy.
Guided by the strong right arm of Joe Flacco and the sense of “destiny” surrounding them in captain Ray Lewis’s last season, the Baltimore Ravens beat the San Francisco 49ers in a game that was so close, the difference may have been a hold.
After having played an awful first half of football, Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers took advantage of a 30 minute power-outage delay in the Mercedez-Benz Superdome to storm back in the second half. San Francisco succeeded in turning what had been a 21-6 halftime deficit into a 34-29 nail-biter when Kaepernick, with his last shot at victory, lofted a pass into the far right corner for receiver Michael Crabtree. Crabtree was nowhere near the ball however as he was caught in the grasp of a Jimmy Smith bear-hug. First time Super Bowl referee Jerome Boger kept his flag in his pocket and Baltimore won the Super Bowl.
“There’s no question in my mind that there was a pass interference and then a hold,” said 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh.
Last season, Jim watched his season fall to the turf in the form of a Kyle Williams overtime fumble on a kick-return. This season, it was again special teams that did them in though in a different manner altogether.
Big brother John, a former special teams coach, pulled out a fake field goal that nearly made it, took a deliberate safety that clinched it, and had New Orleans native Jacoby Jones (the hero from the Denver game) run a kickoff back 108 yards for a touchdown.
Special teams wasn’t the only area with a decided purple advantage.
The Ravens won the battle of the turnovers, picking up a LaMichael James fumble and Ed Reed’s postseason-record-tying ninth interception. They also won the battle in the trenches.
The key for the San Francisco 49ers to win the Super Bowl was a simple one: get to Flacco. pass-rush specialist Aldon Smith and their monster on the interior Justin Smith needed to win the battles on the line and make Flacco move his feet. Not only were they unsuccessful in getting to the quarterback (1 QB hit combined between the two of them), they were virtually erased from the game altogether. Between the two of them, they accounted for just 4 solo tackles, 5 tackles total.
With all the time in the world in the pocket, Joe Flacco continued the Tom Brady/Joe Montana impersonation he’s been channeling all postseason. He attacked the seam of the 49ers defense on perfect touchdown throws to both Dennis Pitta and Anquan Boldin. His long-distance strike to Jacoby Jones led to another score late in the first half. Flacco finished the postseason with 11 touchdowns and no interceptions. The only other QB to achieve that feat is none other than Montana himself in the 1989 postseason.
Flacco figures to cash in big this offseason as the top free agent on the market following his marvelous postseason. Most assume he’ll be back wearing purple next season; something that can’t be said for number 52.
“The final series of Ray Lewis’ career was a goal-line stand,” Coach John Harbaugh said. A fitting way for one of the greatest linebackers in league history to end his career…just ask him:
“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.
A relieved and (as always) emotional Lewis walked off into the sunset with Lombardi trophy in hand capping one of the weirdest and greatest Super Bowls in recent memory.