NEW ORLEANS — It was the Night the Lights went out in Louisiana. But in the end, the lights did not go out on the Baltimore Ravens.
On Sunday night when the halftime show by the magnificent Beyonce caused the power to go out inside the Super Dome in New Orleans, the San Francisco 49ers almost came back from a 21-6 halftime deficit and a 28-6 disadvantage one play into the second half, with 25 second half-points.
However, in linebacker Ray Lewis’ final game, after a brilliant 17-year career in Baltimore, the Baltimore Ravens hung on and beat the Niners 34-31 to claim Super Bowl XLVII. It was Lewis’s second Super Bowl title during his Hall of Fame career.
Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco was named the game’s most valuable player. Flacco finished 22-for-33 for 287 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions and made all the big plays when he had to. Anquan Boldin caught six of Flacco’s passes for 104 yards and a touchdown.
The biggest play of the game, however, was a 108-yard kick return for a touchdown by Jacoby Jones that gave Baltimore a 28-6 lead just one play into the second half.
“It sure doesn’t hurt when you return the opening kickoff of the second half for a touchdown,” said Baltimore head coach John Harbaugh. “That definitely was a big play.”
Meanwhile San Francisco’s Colin Kaepernick finished 16-of-28 for 302 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Kaepernick also carried seven times for 62 yards and 15-yard TD, the longest touchdown run by a quarterback in Super Bowl history.
Frank Gore carried 19 times for 110 yards and one TD for San Francisco while the Niners’ Michael Crabtree caught five passes for 109 yards and a touchdown while Vernon Davis caught six passes for 104 yards.
However, despite the Niners’ second-half brilliance, the Ravens had built an insurmountable first-half lead. San Francisco never led in the game, but the 49ers still had a chance to win it when punt returner Ted Ginn Jr. fielded a punt with four seconds remaining but the swarming Ravens special teamers brought him down at midfield. him near midfield before making the tackle.
“It’s never pretty, it’s never perfect, but it’s always us,” said John Harbaugh after the game. “That was definitely us out there today. We didn’t make it easy on ourselves and it wasn’t pretty but we got the job done.”
Harbaugh defeated his brother Jim, the San Francisco 49ers head coach, in the first Super Bowl that featured brothers coaching against each other. The winner admitted that it was no an easy task.
“It was very hard coaching against Jim today,” John said. “At the end of the game I told him I loved him. He just said to me ‘Congratulations.’”
This was Lewis’s final game in the NFL and he went out a winner even though it had been a difficult week for Lewis. The media went after the fact that Lewis had cut a plea bargain to get out of what was a double murder charge after the Super Bowl in Atlanta in 2000. However, Lewis maintained that “God will prove that I’m innocent,” and that’s all he’d say about the case.
“It’s simple, when God is for you who can be against you?” said Lewis, ion a vague response to winning a Super Bowl in his final game. “There is no greater way for a champ to go out in his last ride than to go out with the men who got him there. I’m so proud of these men I play with. Baltimore, Baltimore, Baltimore: We did it!”
Flacco, the quiet Baltimore quarterback who is now going to get what the Baltimore ownership group calls, “franchise money,” when the team offers him a new contract later this month, called his Super Bowl win, “unbelievable.”
“It really was unbelievable,” he said. “We don’t make it easy on ourselves, but that’s the way the city of Baltimore is and that’s the way we are. We’re really just like the city we represent.
“Now, we just can’t wait to get the back there for the parade and to bring that trophy back home.”
It was the first time the 49ers have ever lost a Super Bowl and head coach Jim Harbaugh refused to be interviewed by NBC Sports after the game. His team had a great chance to score late in the game but couldn’t convert on fourth and goal from the Baltimore five-yard line.
As a result, Baltimore won its second Super Bowl (the first was Super Bowl XXXV) and completed a sweep of Denver, New England and San Francisco, all on the road.
And now you can use Joe Flacco’s name in the same sentence with Brady, Manning, Rodgers and Brees.