NEW ORLEANS, La. - February 3, 2013 - Usually when the lights go out, the party's over. Not when it comes to this year's Super Bowl however.
The game billed as the “Har-Bowl” had big brother John Harbaugh beating little brother Jim Harbaugh, as the Baltimore Ravens defeated the San Francisco 49ers 34-31 in the 47th edition of the National Football League's world championship game, commonly known as the Super Bowl. It marked the first time that the San Francisco franchise had lost in the big game, and it also marked the last game in the phenomenal career of Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis.
At the very start of the game, it was clear that Baltimore was the more relaxed squad, with the 49ers forfeiting a 20-yd gain due to an alignment penalty on the first snap. The drive would eventually fizzle, and the Ravens would take over and score on a Joe Flacco TD pass to WR Anquan Boldin. Flacco would follow up with a short TD pass to TE Dennis Pitta, and a 56-yd bomb thrown to Jacoby Jones, which saw the wide receiver get up off the ground, make a spin move, then find the end zone.
On the other side, San Francisco was able to move the ball well throughout the middle of the field, but had no luck in the red zone, settling for two David Akers FGs. Plus, two turnovers did not help the cause, with RB LaMichael James fumbling in Ravens' territory, and QB Colin Kaepernick throwing what turned out to be the first-ever interception thrown by a 49ers quarterback in the franchise's Super Bowl history. At halftime, the score was 21-6 in favor of Baltimore.
During the intermission, the team trailing usually gets a chance to come out with a game plan to make the adjustments needed to have a better second half. However, the 49ers were not so fortunate, as Baltimore's Jacoby Jones struck again. This time, it was a record tying 108-yd kickoff return for a touchdown that made the score 28-6, and left San Francisco stunned. It would appear that you could turn out the lights, as the party was over. Sort of…
Right into a 49ers drive, the lights suddenly went out in the Superdome. The NFL and stadium officials have still not come out with a concrete explanation as to what caused the outage, but the game was halted for 34 minutes, about as long as halftime. This blackout switched the momentum of the game, as San Francisco went to work. After a Kaepernick TD pass to Michael Crabtree, the Ravens offense fizzled, perhaps the result of being off the field for 80 real-time minutes due to the halftime show, the kickoff return, and the power outage.
San Francisco would strike again with a Frank Gore TD to make the score 28-20. Then, Ravens RB Ray Rice, the usually sure-handed running back from Rutgers, fumbled and gave San Francisco another chance to draw closer. Akers would connect on another field goal, thanks to a second chance after a Ravens penalty. Baltimore would then get a field goal from their kicker Justin Tucker to make the score 31-23.
The fourth quarter was rather unexpected. What was supposed to be a blowout suddenly became a shootout. Kaepernick used his running prowess to score on a 15-yd TD run to make the score 31-29. The team would go for the two-point conversion, but would come up short and unable to tie the game. Baltimore later got another FG from Tucker to make the score 34-29.
The final 49ers drive had the game essentially in the balance, and Kaepernick got his team in position to take the lead and perhaps win the game. After three failed attempts on 3rd and goal, the 49ers had one more play to get into the end zone. But it was to no avail, as the Ravens' all out blitz forced Kaepernick to fire the ball earlier than he wanted for an incomplete pass. The play was not without controversy, as Niners head coach Jim Harbaugh wanted a defensive holding penalty on Baltimore CB Jimmy Smith, but did not get it.
Despite getting the ball on downs, the Ravens were not able to run out the clock completely, and took a safety on 4th down to run down more time, and made the score 34-31. Baltimore would eventually kick off, and when 49ers WR Ted Ginn, Jr. was unable to run it back for a score, the game ended, and the Ravens burst onto the field to celebrate the franchise's second Super Bowl win.
After a stretch that saw them lose four of their last five regular season games, the Baltimore Ravens took the postseason by storm. With the inspiration of Ray Lewis' pending retirement, the team defeated the likes of the Indianapolis Colts, the Denver Broncos, and the New England Patriots to reach the big game. Quarterback Joe Flacco was brilliant in the playoffs, and went 22-33 for 287 yards and 3 TD passes to earn Super Bowl Most Valuable Player honors. Flacco's performance certainly helped his cause in upcoming free agency, as he seeks to become one of the highest paid quarterbacks in the NFL. Ravens coach John Harbaugh has made the playoffs in every year of his tenure, and became the first head coach to beat his brother employed in the same position in a Super Bowl.
Meanwhile, the 49ers had a pretty good season themselves. The NFC champions beat the Green Bay Packers and Atlanta Falcons during their playoff run. Although they lost the big game, the franchise is an impressive 5-1 overall in Super Bowl play.
Next year's Super Bowl will be held at Metlife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. It is the hope of millions in the local area that the two teams participating will be the New York Jets and New York Giants, who both play their home games at the venue.