The Baltimore Ravens shocked the experts and held off the San Francisco 49ers’ late challenge to win the Super Bowl, showing again---as San Francisco Giants fans well know—the power of karma in winning sports titles. The Ravens overcame injuries and almost certain defeat in the last minute of their playoff game against the Denver Broncos to become what many believed was a team of destiny. As Chris “Mad Dog” Russo noted on his national sports talk show on Friday, it’s risky to pick against a team that seems to have karma and destiny on its side (yet Russo did). I knew this game would be tougher than most 49er fans expected, and think Joe Flacco and the Ravens offense were underrated throughout the playoffs. As for the 49ers, they’ll be back in the Super Bowl next year--- and will win.
With two minutes to go, it looked like the 49ers would pull out another comeback victory. First and goal from inside the ten with a now unstoppable offense left most fans thinking about whether the Ravens offense would have enough time to kick a winning or game-tying field goal.
But showing the gambling spirit that they demonstrated throughout the game (sometimes foolishly, as in the fake field goal), the Ravens defense pressured Colin Kaepernick rather than sitting back and letting him beat them.
And it worked.
While 49er fans complain about the last four downs play selection (most wondering why they did not use Gore to pound it in for the go-ahead score), it's hard to score with the game on the line. Just ask the Atlanta Falcons, who were in almost the identical situation against the 49ers and, after quickly driving down the field for the winning score, could not reach the end zone.
Forget the power failure. The 49ers are a younger team that wears down opponents in the second half. They were dominant against the Packers and Falcons in the second half, and would have controlled the game in the second half of the Super Bowl, power failure or not.
The 49ers lost because their pass defense was not up to the task. This weakness has been apparent for several games, but is overlooked by the offense’s ability to outscore opponents.
Because the 49ers defense could not get the Ravens offense off the field in the fourth quarter, the offense had too few chances to score.
Kapernick was brilliant. Frank Gore and Patrick Willis were spectacular. Akers out-performed expectations.
But it was not enough. The Super Bowl victory parade will be put off until next year, and San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee lost his first sports bet with a rival city’s mayor after a long string of success.
After losing to the Giants last year, the 49ers realized they needed better receivers. They got some, but they still have nobody as good as the Ravens Anquan Bolden. Crabtree played well, but Bolden’s key catches made him the second most valuable player of the game (after Flacco). The 49ers lack a Tony Gonzalez-Rob Gronkowski type tight end who can reach out and catch the ball in a crowd inside the red zone---they should try to fill this need for next year.
It was a great season that took the 49ers further than last year. Now they have nowhere to go but up, and are immediate favorites for the next Super Bowl.
But if any AFC team had to beat the 49ers, I’m glad it was the Ravens. Baltimore needs something to cheer about, and after last year’s heartbreaking AFC title game loss to the Patriots (the dropped touchdown pass followed by a missed chip shot field goal) they have seen the depths and now know the heights.
San Francisco did not get another win to support its claim as America’s new Titletown
, but no city has had as much professional sports success as San Francisco in the past year.
Congrats to the 49ers on a great season!