Emotions are running high in the immediate hours after any loss, and that’s multiplied ten-fold following the Super Bowl. Have you ever been forced to briefly be a part of someone else’s celebration after one of the biggest accomplishments in their life? Yeah, being roped off as that confetti falls looks like great fun.
So you can begin to understand why, likely out of frustration, 49ers running back Frank Gore said this during his post-game interviews last night:
“They got away with one,” he said, according to The Associated Press. “We showed we were the better team. It was just a couple plays here, a couple plays there.”
Well, Frank, you’re sort of not wrong, but it was more than just a “couple plays”. In the numerical sense of the phrase I suppose that’s correct, but the two plays that had the greatest impact weren’t just the product of casual gaffs, and Jacoby Jones was involved in both of them.
One was a historic gaff. I’m of course referring to Jones’ 108-yard kick return touchdown to open the second half, which established a new Super Bowl and playoff record, and came one yard short of tying the longest play in NFL history. That’s not just a minor misstep.
But before that in the second quarter was Jones’ 56-yard touchdown catch and run in which he first beat Chris Culliver badly, and then after turning into the kick returner he is in the open field, he made multiple defenders miss while running about 15 more yards to the end zone.
The 49ers had the fourth best secondary throughout the regular season, giving up an average of only 200.2 passing yards per game. Even more impressively, while facing 567 pass attempts, the longest completion they allowed was a gain of 53 yards. Jones’ catch was then a wildly uncharateristic play by a defense that shed all of its character for much of the first half, creating a deficit that was eventually — but only barely — too large to overcome.
When a team doesn’t play up to its full potential, we shouldn’t be convinced that they should have won. Instead, we should be convinced of another obvious and simple fact: on the game’s largest stage and under its brightest lights, the 49ers failed, while the Ravens took advantage of each and every mistake.