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Monday, February 04, 2013

Super Bowl XLVII Musings

What looked like a blowout suddenly became a close game after a power outage. In the end, however, the Baltimore Ravens turned to their defense and a spirited goal-line stand helped them hold on to a 34-31 victory over the San Francisco 49ers to win the championship in Super Bowl XLVII.

It was a fitting end to a Super Bowl already bursting with multiple plots. As noted in the Yahoo! sports report, the following storylines were already in place:

" -The coaching Harbaughs (Jim for the 49ers, and John for the Ravens) sibling rivalry, won by older brother John, who said the postgame greeting with Jim was ''painful.''

" - (Ravens quarterback Joe) Flacco's emergence as a top-level quarterback, and his impending free agency.

" - Colin Kaepernick's rapid rise in the last two months as 49ers QB.

" - The big game's return to the Big Easy for the first time in 11 years, and the first time since Hurricane Katrina ravaged the city in 2005.

" - (Ravens linebacker Ray) Lewis' self-proclaimed 'last ride.'"

The power outage, which was apparently caused by an "abnormality" which set off an automatic shutdown of the electrical system, added a little extra drama. Before the outage, the Ravens were on a roll and systematically taking apart the 49ers, as the Ravens raced to a 28-6 lead, capped by a 108-yard kickoff touchdown run by Jacoby Jones to start off the 3rd quarter. Before the outage, it looked like the Ravens were going to handily put an end to the 49ers' five-game unbeaten streak in the Super Bowl.

After the power came back on, it was an entirely different story, as the Ravens' offense suddenly spluttered and the Ravens' defense became tentative, as the 49ers scored two quick touchdowns and a field goal in the third quarter to cut Baltimore's lead down to five.

In the fourth quarter, the Ravens managed a field goal to push the lead back to eight. But, 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick rushed 15 yards for a touchdown, and, although the 49ers' attempt to gain two more points was foiled, the 49ers were within two points of the lead.

The Ravens managed another field goal to make the game a one-possession lead, as the 49ers could easily erase the five-point deficit with a touchdown. And the 49ers nearly made that happen, as Kaepernick engineered a drive that brought San Francisco down to within yards of the end zone.

Then, the Ravens' defense, which had allowed the 49ers to climb back into the game, awoke from its slumber, and put up a frantic defense that stymied Kaepernick and the 49ers, ending in a long pass which didn't find its mark.

The Ravens then ran out the clock, and allowed a safety score of two points which helped make up the final score.

As Yahoo! columnist Les Carpenter notes, it was the Ravens' defense that ultimately gave Baltimore the win. Led by retiring veteran and sure-to-be Hall of Famer Ray Lewis, the Ravens' goal-line stand helped preserve Baltimore's victory.

It was a bitter pill for the 49ers to swallow, as they absorbed their first Super Bowl loss in team history. Still, as they managed to make it a close game in the end, they have nothing to be ashamed of. They did their best, and that's all that can be expected.

And so the curtain falls on the 2012-2013 NFL season. Baltimore will be expected to defend its title sans Lewis, among others, and, in the parity-driven NFL, a title defense is never a sure thing. However, it will be interesting to see what storylines next season will develop.

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