When the NFL history book is written and the scholars debate the best Super Bowl ever, this past Sunday’s XLVII at the New Orleans Superdome between the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers will be at or near the top.
There were touchdown passes and scoring runs, an NFL playoff record kickoff return, a 34-minute delay due to a power outage, a safety and a defensive stand by the Ravens that helped preserve a 34-31 victory.
The 49ers came within five yards of capturing the lead and less than two minutes on the clock, but Baltimore turned away quarterback Colin Kaepernick on fourth down when his pass to Michael Crabtree fell incomplete.
San Francisco (468 total net yards) began the drive at its 20-yard line and 4:19 left, and after eight-yard runs by Frank Gore (110 yards on 19 carries) and Kaepernick, the second-year signal-caller hit Crabtree (109 yards and five receptions) on a 24-yard hookup.
Gore’s 33-yard ramble put the ball at the Baltimore seven-yard line, and after LaMichael James gained two yards on first down, Kaepernick (16 of 28 for 302 yards and one interception) failed to find Crabtree on his next three attempts.
Everything clicked for the Ravens (367 total yards) in the opening half as quarterback Joe Flacco (22 of 33 for 287 yards) threw three scoring passes.
“This is just an incredible feeling,’’ said Flacco, who had 11 touchdown passes and no interceptions over the four-game playoff run. “It wasn’t easy, but it never is with us.”
Flacco’s 13-yard pass to Anquan Boldin (104 yards and six catches) capped a 51-yard drive as 10:36 remained in the first quarter.
David Akers’ 36-yard field goal with 3:58 showing in the first quarter made it 7-3, but Flacco, named the game’s Most Valuable Player, found tight end Dennis Pitta (26 yards and four receptions) with a one-yard strike as 7:10 remained in the second quarter.
A fumble by James at the Ravens 25-yard line set up Baltimore’s 10-play, 75-yard march as the Ravens (14-6), who won their second Super Bowl, went ahead 14-3.
With 1:45 left before the break, Flacco hit Jacoby Jones with a 56-yard bomb as the Ravens were in command 21-3, but it became a 15-point spread after Akers hit a 27-yard kick just before the half.
Jones began the third quarter by returning the kickoff 108 yards to make it 28-6, and it seemed clear sailing for the Ravens.
A few minutes later a bank of lights went out. When the lights came back on, San Francisco became recharged as Kaepernick (62 yards on seven rushes) led the 49ers on four scoring drives.
Kaepernick’s 31-yard pass to Crabtree closed an 80-yard drive with 7:20 left in the third quarter as the 49ers (13-5-1) came within 28-13, and Gore’s six-yard blast with 4:59 showing made it an eight-point contest.
When Akers hit a 34-yarder and 3:10 remained in the quarter, San Francisco trailed 28-23.
Justin Tucker’s 19-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter made it 31-23, but Kaepernick’s 15-yard sprint with just under 10 minutes left cut it to 31-29 after failing to locate Randy Moss (41 yards and two catches) on the two-point try.
Tucker’s 38-yard attempt made it a five-point margin and 4:19 left, and punter Sam Koch took a safety as the 49ers tallied their final points.
Rick Assad has been a sportswriter for more than two decades. He has a political science degree from UCLA, a journalism degree from CSUN, is a staff writer for diamondboxing.com, and is a columnist for socalboxing.wordpress.com. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.