USA TODAY Sports
Super Bowl Champions! Ravens jump all over the 49ers early and then hang on for dear life. Baltimore never relinquished the lead and defeated San Francisco 34 - 31. This is the Ravens second Super Bowl victory in as many tries; Baltimore's fifth NFL Championship.
Ironic, isn't it? Both Ravens' Super Bowl victories resulted in them winning by scoring 34 points. And this one was well on its way to being every bit the route the one back in 2001 was. But give San Francisco credit- the 49ers battled through all kinds of adversity and not only made a game of it, but almost pulled it out...
No Good or Bad or Ugly; just Great! In the NFL, it is all about the Lombardi. It doesn't matter how you win it, or what happened -it is whether or not you are the last man standing. We could say the defense should of done this or Flacco should have done that, or question some of the coaches -doesn't matter. Ravens won; 31 other teams wish they were drafting 32nd now.
Ray Lewis may not have had the best stat night. And, he got beat on a couple plays and blocked on a few more. But he led this team to victory when it was darkest. It may sound corny, but he did provide an emotional edge. And that edge was worth three points.
Kruger, Jones, Ngata, McPhee even Suggs -all shut down the 49ers' running game in the first half and gave Kaepernick enough pressure to keep him from getting into any kind of rhythm in the first half.
The Ravens corners played very well. Yes, they gave up some plays and missed some critical tackles. But when the frickin' championship was on the line, they came shining through. Jimmy Smith with a textbook separating the ball from the receiver on third and goal. And then the fourth and goal play. The Ravens brought just enough pressure on Kaepernick to maybe not allow him to throw a perfect pass.
Let's put the controversy to bed. Ball was on the five yard line. The DB is allowed to engage the receiver prior to the goal line. By the time the receiver crosses the goal line, he is actually pushing the DB down to the ground. And given the way the game had been called (i.e. no flag on the blatant late hit out of bounds on Flacco), it was consistent. There was not a single holding call on a O-lineman. I cannot remember the last time I watched an NFL game without a single holding call on an O-lineman.
Boldin was the baddest man on the field tonight. His touchdown grab, his third and inches catch, the Flacco scramble throwing it away early in the game for a big play, and then the catch and YAC down the sideline.
The O-Line gave Joe plenty of time to throw. They gave up two sacks. One looked like a total brain farq on the O-line's part and nearly got Joe kilt, but I'll take two sacks in the Super Bowl when you know a defense as good as the 49ers is going to be jacked up.
Jacoby Jones was fantastic! Setting the Super Bowl record for a kickoff return and making a spectacular play to get into the endzone on a bomb. Joe got the MVP, but I hope Jacoby got a few votes thrown his way.
One hundred ten million. Try and wrap your head around that. Joe played like a million bucks last night. Actually, he played like one hundred and ten million bucks. Joe Flacco has equaled Peyton Manning's number of post-season wins and number of Super Bowl rings.But he is not "elite". On third and inches, to audible out of a run and hit Boldin for 15 yards was ballsy. Many folks think that was the "money" play for Joe during the game. The mad scramble when it looked like Joe was going to just throw it away for a huge play. Boldin's touchdown play was classic Flacco. But I thought the prettiest play/pass that Joe made was the Pitta touchdown. Joe executed a beautiful play-action, reversed direction, set his feet and fired a frickin' laser right into Pitta. That was play was art. Pay the man, and do it with a smile.
The Ravens are World Champions! Ray-Ray gets to ride off into the sunset as a champion.Birk gets a ring, Mckinnie, Reed, Boldin, Suggs, Leach, Ayanbadejo. So many veterans who have come so close over the past five years finally get over the hump. Some might argue that last year's team was actually a better team. And then the logical follow-on to that is, then this should have been the Ravens second Super Bowl appearance in a row. This year's team certainly wasn't nearly as injury free and the defense last year was arguably better. But looking back in retrospect, I think this Lombardi can really be looked at as the culmination of a two-year journey, not just one season. You could see that as sickening as last year's loss was, the Ravens actually used that as a foundation and built upon it. In many ways, this year's team was an evolution of last year's team. The addition of Jacoby, Corey Graham and even Ihedigbo, were key. Switching to Caldwell from Cam was vital.You can point to any number of watershed moments and decision points over the past two years -any one of which had they gone slightly differently, and the Ravens would not have arrived at the same destination.
I think Harbs said it best, so it is fitting that the season ends with his quote, "...It's never pretty. It's never perfect. But it's us".