Three years ago today, the Baltimore Ravens cemented their status in the NFL record books once again as they finished off the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl 47 by the score of 34-31. The win not only gave the Ravens their second Super Bowl trophy in franchise history, but the win also allowed Ravens future hall of fame linebacker Ray Lewis to retire with his second Super Bowl ring.
Winning the Super Bowl is a great feeling for any team. But the way the Ravens won their Super Bowl is satisfying in more ways than one. All three games in the postseason leading up to the Super Bowl provided a different kind of satisfaction.
Ravens defeat the Colts 24-9 in the AFC Wild Card game
There is something symbolic about this victory and the way it ties in with Ray Lewis retiring. The fact that this was Ray's last home game, to go along with a win against a team in the Colts that obviously used to reside in Baltimore, is very poetic.
Ray's enjoyment running around the stadium after the game celebrating with any Ravens fan he could find, was something special. Ray Lewis is always thankful for his opportunity in Baltimore and if the Colts never left Baltimore, there's a good chance that Ray's connection with the city would never have happened.
So for Ray and the Ravens to get that win against the Colts of all teams, on that stage, is something that will also bring a smile to any Ravens fan.
Ravens defeat the Broncos 38-35 in double overtime in the AFC Divisional Round
Many things leading up to the game and during the game were just wild. The amount of disrespect that the Ravens were getting as underdogs was unbelievable. Fans around the NFL were laughing at the notion of the Ravens winning at Denver. The vast majority of media members around the country didn't give the Ravens a chance to win in this game.
I recall watching ESPN's coverage of this game during the week and the only people I remember giving the Ravens any ounce of respect at ESPN were three Mike's in Bristol: Mike Greenberg, Mike Golic and Michael Smith. That's it. Mike Golic actually had the Ravens winning the Super Bowl that year, so he stuck with his pick. He's a genius.
Mike Greenberg said that he would give the Ravens a puncher's chance to win this game. Michael Smith also showed a lot of respect towards the Ravens in this game as well. I don't remember anyone else at that network giving the Ravens a chance. However, I do remember reading this article from ESPN's Ashley Fox who titled her article, "Ravens overmatched vs. Machine". I would strongly suggest reading that article again if you are a Ravens fan.
My favorite part of Ashley's article was actually the first paragraph:
Baltimore will have to short-circuit the MacBook to have a chance at beating Denver next Saturday. Remove the hard drive. Pour beer on the keyboard. Take a hammer to the screen. Whatever works.
I don't want this to sound like I'm piling on against Ashley because I have a lot of respect for her. But if you are a Ravens fan or anyone associated with the Ravens organization and you saw this, you wouldn't be amused. Not a single soul picked the Ravens to win at NFL.com in this article either. But you get the picture.
In terms of the game, the Ravens had the mental toughness to take on anything the Broncos threw at them. Whether it was a kick return or a punt return for a touchdown by the Broncos, the Ravens responded. The biggest response was Joe Flacco's touchdown pass to Jacoby Jones to force overtime in the fourth quarter. At that point, the Broncos were emotionally spent.
Ravens defeat the New England Patriots 28-13 in AFC Championship game
Talk about sweet revenge. During the 2011 season, as we all know, the Ravens had the opportunity to advance to the Super Bowl, but they couldn't get it done. With Ravens wide receiver Lee Evans being unable to hold on to a game-winning touchdown catch and kicker Billy Cundiff missing a chip shot field goal to send the game into overtime, the Ravens were devastated. Ravens fans were certainly devastated too.
The Ravens had to wait a whole year to get revenge. And for the Ravens to meet the Patriots once again in the very same setting, it was an opportunity that the Ravens could not pass up. What made the victory even sweeter, was the fact that there were Patriots fans talking trash as usual as they planned a retirement party for Ray Lewis.
Obviously that didn't go well for any Patriots fan. After trailing at halftime 13-7 in the game, the Ravens responded with 21 unanswered points. The high powered Patriots offense couldn't get anything going against a Ravens defense that was out on a mission. The whole team was out on a mission: send Ray out on top!
Super Bowl 47: The Ravens take out the 49ers 34-31
Big brother John Harbaugh vs. little brother Jim Harbaugh. Number 52 mentor Ray Lewis vs. number 52 student Patrick Willis. Two teams that came from opposite sides of the country came to face off in the Superdome in New Orleans. On one side you had a Ravens team that was filled with veterans who had been through the physical battles for years and years and were regarded as the old bullies on the block.
On the other side, you had a 49ers team who was regarded as the most talented, physical team in the NFL and with their physicality they were regarded as the new bullies on the block. It had somewhat of a "Out with the old, in with the new" feel to it. The Ravens were considered old. The 49ers were considered a young team that was on the rise for many years to come.
The Ravens would have none of it. The quote "Old men" gave the 49ers a blistering beating by the score of 28-6 until the lights went out. You could say the Ravens were beating the lights out of the 49ers. But that beating woke San Francisco up. It woke them up to outscore the Ravens in second half by the score of 25-6.
Near the end of the game, the Ravens defense had to make a stand. A stand that they know, will be remembered forever. What will Ray's legacy be as walks out of the Super Bowl? Will Ed Reed capture his first Super Bowl trophy as his hall of fame career winds down? All of those things were questions when the 49ers entered the Ravens red zone.
The Ravens didn't waste their opportunity at glory. They stood tall on first, second, third and fourth down. It was all but over at that point. The Ravens defense stood tall for the final time with Lewis, Reed and Suggs all on the field together.
All of this happened while Joe Flacco became Super Bowl MVP with a historic postseason throwing 11 touchdowns and zero interceptions. Flacco bet on himself during the 2012 season, believing that he was worth more than what the Ravens offered him during the offseason. Flacco said before the season that he is the best quarterback in the NFL and he backed it up in a way Rex Ryan could only dream of.
This day marked the day that the Ravens became the only team in the NFL to reach the Super Bowl at least two times and stay undefeated in the event.