In my mind I searched for better words to describe this Super Bowl (indeed, “awesome” and “what the hell?” are words that also would have sufficed), but that one feels the most appropriate. It was weird.
Why? Well, let’s review the oddities we witnessed tonight along the way as the Ravens won Super Bowl XLVII, their second championship in franchise history.
- This list has to start with the lights going out for 34 minutes in the middle of the third quarter. I’d say that will never happen again, but after tonight, I’m not confident in such a statement.
- When the lights went out, the Ravens were firmly in control of the game, and leading 28-6. The kaboom happened when the Ravens’ offense hadn’t been on the field yet in the second half. That means with the elongated halftime, they sat for over 80 minutes in real-time.
- They were sluggish, and suddenly, the Niners weren’t. After scoring only six points in the first half, San Francisco scored 17 unanswered points to come to within five. A three-touchdown lead was nearly erased.
- Before the darkness, though, was Jacoby Jones, and his contribution to a deep deficit that was challenged but never conquered. Jones began the second half with a playoff record 108-yard kickoff return touchdown that was also one yard short of tying the longest play in NFL history.
- Jones accounted for 14 points, also adding a 56-yard touchdown reception in which he made a fool out of Chris Culliver, and then juked his way to the end zone. It was his second touchdown reception of 50 yards or more this postseason, and the first catch of that length the 49ers had given up throughout this entire year.
It’s a little dumbfounding, really. As we watched Beyonce at halftime and the world learned that she is, in fact, attractive, we assumed that the Super Bowl had reverted to it’s awful, lop-sided form. You know, way in the before time in the mid to late 90′s when big game blowouts were more common. The less die hard among us were ready to kiss babies, polish off brandy, and offer our condolences to another NFL season.
But then Colin Kaepernick started to shed his rookie-ness that had appeared so often during the first half. He looked more like the running and shifty and gazelle-like QB we had come to know and love/hate.
Of his 62 total rushing yards, 46 of them came in the second half, including a 15-yard touchdown scamper in the fourth quarter. Kaepernick also completed two +30 yard passes in the second half.
But the offseason questions that Jim Harbaugh and his offensive coordinator Greg Roman will now deal with will surround the play calling on that final sequence. After Frank Gore’s 33-yard run, the 49ers had the ball on Baltimore’s seven-yard line with 2:39 remaining. They ran one play — a two-yard gain by LaMichael James — and then were rightfully content with letting the clock tick down to the two-minute warming.
Then on second and five, an offense that used the run all year as its foundation while finishing fourth in average yards per game throughout the regular season (155.7) while also scoring 17 rushing touchdowns didn’t rely on that same power and strength to get the final five yards required for a championship.
The large, bruising Frank Gore wasn’t used in a goal-line situation, and neither was James in the flats to get outside. The big-bodied Vernon Davis was ignored as a red-zone target too, even after he caught six balls for 124 yards previously, with one of those receptions a 29 yarder. No, instead Michael Crabtree was targeted three times, resulting in three incompletions.
It was a puzzling sequence, and one that erased a brilliant second half by Kaepernick, while ensuring that Ray Lewis’ last ride would end with glory.