The National Football League (NFL) surged a wave of excitement across the nation as Super Bowl XLVII commenced to the ringing of pizza-place phones on Sunday, Feb. 3. Football fans, donned in their favorite team jerseys, huddled around the television while a dramatic game enfolded between the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers.
Two brothers, Jim and John Harbaugh, faced off on the sidelines and coached the 49ers and the Ravens respectively, remaining firm until the game’s dying minutes.
As the teams took the field, there was a sense that fans were in for a memorable game. The Ravens were fresh from redeeming themselves against an agonizing loss to the New England Patriots, the same opponent they faced in the AFC Championship a season ago. This season, the AFC Championship win against the Patriots excited Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs, who waltzed off the field shouting, “Have fun at the pro-bowl!”
Suggs’ confidence was indeed warranted, as the Ravens initiated the game with a formidable effort and an evident stride in their step. Joe Flacco delivered a pinpoint pass to Anquan Boldin early in the first quarter for a quick touchdown. There was back-and-forth play for while, and the 49ers managed to chip in a 36-yard field goal towards the end of the first quarter.
The second quarter consisted of sheer domination on the part of the Ravens, whose determined defensive play led to disproportionate ball possession and many missed opportunities for the offense to enter the red zone. The effect was two touchdown passes threaded by Joe Flacco, including a 56-yarder to Jacoby Jones in which the 49ers secondary performed an uncoordinated read on the ball that would serve better in a scene from “The Three Stooges.” Both teams left for halftime with prospects looking dismal for the 49ers as the Ravens marched to a 21-6 lead.
However, all was not lost, as San Francisco was given more than enough time to evaluate their play and assess strategies to exploit holes in a seemingly unyielding Ravens defense. Following halftime, the Superdome experienced a power outage. After a 34-minute game delay, the outcome of the stoppage became quite apparent as the game’s momentum shifted sides to the 49ers. Duel-threat quarterback Colin Kaepernick used both his accurate arm and speed on the turf to chip away at the Ravens’ defense. Frank Gore, who had 110 yards on 19 carries in the game, displayed unmatched instinct in picking his holes and fighting his way through the Ravens defensive line. The outcome was a third quarter that saw the 49ers come back to put 17 points on the board.
The game reached a late climax in which the Ravens were able to claim the Vince Lombardi trophy due to a single goal-line stand. The Ravens were losing grip on a 34-29 lead in the dying minutes of the fourth quarter as Kaepernick led the 49ers down the field in a drive that had them knocking on the Ravens’ door. The Ravens repeatedly made defensive efforts to block entrance to the end zone from first in goal, all the way to a fourth-down effort that sailed over Michael Crabtree. After gaining possession, the Ravens were able to eliminate enough clock to ensure their championship, partly due to a surprise intentional safety that set the final score at 34-31.
Super Bowl XLVII will be remembered as the game in which brothers faced off on the sidelines and a power outage left fans eager for action to resume. However, it will also be recalled as a closely fought game that left many nails remarkably short. Nevertheless, the Ravens demonstrated that strong defenses build championship teams, and Baltimore will remain a dominant force in the AFC. But for now, fans whose teams did not make the playoffs can look forward to the next big football event: the 2013 NFL draft.
Colman is a member of the class of 2015.