Monday, February 4, 2013

Super Bowl Wrap!

Greetings! It was a wild night in New Orleans. If you missed my timeline on Twitter, it can be see in full here, but let's take a look at what transpired during the Ravens' .
  • The lead story... was a power outage! If you were buried under a rock and missed it, there was a 34-minute real-time delay in the 3rd quarter as a result of an unexpected power surge that knocked out half of the building's power. I wish I was making this up. In fact, CBS lost their play-by-play microphones instantly, and the combination of Steve Tasker and James Brown had to carry the telecast for a half-hour. It was madness. The outage came on the heels of the Jacoby Jones 108-yard kickoff return, and it seemed to murder any momentum that Baltimore may have had. I firmly don't believe that it was the "turning point", but at the least, it allowed the Niners to regroup and charge to get back into the game. What a wild scene.
  • Joe Flacco was named the MVP of the game, and while I thought this was actually the wrong choice (I would've gone with the guy who made the two biggest plays of the game in Jacoby Jones), he was tremendous throughout. Most importantly, he made no mistakes (zero INTs), but he also made huge throws to Boldin and even though Jacoby Jones made the other huge play in the passing game, Flacco's arm was a threat throughout the game. He had already made himself a huge contract, but this performance cemented it, I'm sure. I'm still not terribly high on his work, but Flacco was unquestionably a key to their Super Bowl run.
  • Speaking of the Ravens offense, I can't stress how insane it is that a team that fired their offensive coordinator mid-season just won the Super Bowl. For every joke about Jim Caldwell (and there were several, mainly that he never blinks!), he did a nice job of setting Flacco free, was more consistent in giving the ball to Rice (and Pierce), and used Boldin's skill-set to his advantage in a big way. And while we're here, this was certainly not the dominant Baltimore defense of the past, as they finished 17th in total defense during the regular season and allowed a ghastly 468 yards on Sunday night. Props to their offense for carrying the day. 
  • On the other side of the field, San Francisco made an insane comeback in the second half last night. Kaepernick struggled mightily in the opening half, but things opened up post-power outage and he settled in. However, the biggest strength for the Niners last night was certainly their offensive line play. They are often hailed as an elite unit, and they proved it, firing off the line against a good front 7 for Baltimore and dominating at the point of attack. Kaepernick had time to throw all night, and SF averaged over 6 yards a carry as a team on the ground. At times, I wished they would've gave Frank Gore more looks, but when you trail by 3 scores, it is tough to grind and grind in the run game. 
  • One underplayed storyline was the LaMichael James' fumble. With Baltimore leading 7-3, San Francisco mounted a really nice drive, taking the ball to the Baltimore 25-yard-line before James put the ball on the turf. This resulted in a march by Flacco and company and suddenly, it was a potential 14-point swing. I wouldn't put it on par with either of the Jacoby Jones plays (which were absurd), but this one stood out to me, even post-game, as a huge swing in the game. 
  • Speaking of Jacoby Jones, I mentioned earlier that he was robbed of the MVP award, and while "robbed" is certainly too strong of a word, Jones made the two biggest plays of the game. It's hard to overstate that the #4 pass catcher on the Baltimore Ravens would deserve the Super Bowl MVP, but the kick return was absolutely electric, and the play he made on the 56-yard touchdown pass late in the first half was a haymaker. All from a guy who had 406 yards receiving on the season. 
  • The sequence that everyone will remember from Sunday's game (sans power outage) was the goal-line stand from Baltimore on the final San Francisco drive. The Niners absolutely marched down the field, going 73 yards in the first five plays of the drive to set-up a 1st-and-goal on the 7. Then, they went super conservative with a LaMichael James' (who I assume was only in the game because of Gore's 33-yard run before this, but really!?) run on 1st down. Then, Kaepernick ended the drive with three straight incompletions, and looked bad doing it. I absolutely hated the 4th-down play call, as a fade pattern is about as low-percentage as it gets in that spot, and the thinking is simply out-dated. I'll give Harbaugh and company some benefit of the doubt by assuming that there were other options (because the pressure came up the middle), but if that was it, that's an ugly choice. At no point in the final three plays was Kaepernick a threat to run, and that's the major sticking point. Baltimore was able to make him a pure passer, and with the shortened field, the throwing lanes didn't exist. They'll be replaying that sequence in Baltimore for years to come.
Overall, this was a very, very entertaining evening of football. The power outage took the game from simply competitive and fun to utterly surreal, but the quality of play on the field was high, and that's all we can ask for. It had two young QB's throwing punches, two of the top-10 running backs in the league, high-level defense, and two brothers coaching against each other. Yet another awesome Super Bowl, and while we go dark on football until the Draft, this one will leave a good taste for everyone. Enjoy!

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