Words: Kyle Simpson, Ravens Corespondent
Baltimore, MD – You could not write a better ending for the last ride of Ray Lewis. Becoming a Super Bowl champion after making one last goal line stand to win the game? It is the stuff of legend, made a reality Sunday night.
The 10-6 Baltimore Ravens pulled off what nearly everybody said was impossible. They beat the “unstoppable” offense of the 49ers and brought the Lombardi back to Baltimore for the second time. Not even a freak power outage can stop the team of destiny on their path to glory.
The Ravens came out strong, drawing first blood with a Joe Flacco touchdown pass to Anquan Boldin. That would be the first of three touchdowns thrown by the Super Bowl MVP, Joe Flacco, last night. He would throw one to Pitta and another miracle bomb to Jacoby Jones in the 2nd quarter. Putting the Ravens up 21-6 going into halftime “part one” (more on that in a second). The Ravens put up a strong performance for the first half.
They had all the momentum leading into Beyonce’s halftime show, and for the first minute and a half after it. Jacoby Jones returned a beautiful 108-yard kickoff return for a touchdown (Gardener’s Furniture made a bet saying that if the Ravens returned either the opening or the second half kickoff for a touchdown, any and all furniture bought before 3 PM on Sunday was free. Whoops). It was 28-6 at the start of the second half and it looked like the Ravens were going to have just as easy of a win as they did in 2001.
Some could say they were playing “light’s out”.
Then the lights actually went out (forgive that terrible pun). Nobody really knows how, or why, but they did. And that moment changed the tempo of the game. Instead of continuing to pound the 49ers, they got a 35-minute half time “part two” to regroup and catch their breath. Shifting the momentum from purple and black to the burgundy and gold. And it showed. They scored 17 unanswered points in what was probably the worst 3rd quarter I have ever witnessed. But the 3rd quarter doesn’t matter.
Games are won in the 4th quarter (or the 6th if you are in Denver).
Continuing their drive from the 3rd quarter, the Ravens finally got back on the board with a field goal from Justin Tucker. It was now 31-23. San Francisco answered with a drive that ended in Colin Kapernick running 15 yards for the longest rushing touchdown by a quarterback in Super Bowl history. The 49ers needed the two point conversion to tie, and thanks to Ed Reed getting in Kapernick’s face, they did not get it. 31-29 and the Ravens are desperately holding on. They would get one last field goal to make it 34-29 in the last two minutes of the game.
This would be the point where I should have asked my father why we did not have a family cardiologist.
The 49ers marched down the field and got to the five yard line to wind the clock down to the two minute warning. It was second and goal.
My heart has never beat so fast.
Ray Lewis’ last series would be a goal line stand for the Lombardi trophy. First was a pass that incomplete in the end zone. Exhale. 3rd down. They tried to air it out again to Michael Crabtree who got crushed by Jimmy Smith, knocking the ball incomplete. No exhaling this time. It was down to this.
4th down. This was it.
San Francisco snaps the ball. Passes is up to Crabtree again. Incomplete! Exhale.
Hugs were shared between my family and I, but we all knew it was not over yet. With just over 1:45 left on the clock, the Ravens did all they could do to wind the clock down. They pounded the ball on the ground and force the 49ers to use their last timeout. Two more unsuccessful runs brought up 4th and long.
This is where the Ravens got real crafty. They hike the ball to Sam Koch in the end zone and he keeps it in the backfield to keep the clock running. As time ticks away, Koch is dancing to avoid being tackled and runs out of the end zone to take the safety and leave the 49ers with four seconds on the clock. That special teams brilliance was a far cry from the gaffed fake field goal in the first half.
The Ravens punt the ball away and shut down the return to seal the victory. 34-31. CBS cut to a shot of Ray Lewis embracing Ed Reed (who was ridiculously giddy about winning the Super Bowl in his home town) and Terrell Suggs. Chykie Brown was making confetti angels.
Joe Flacco was MVP (pay the man already) and Ray Lewis was hoisting the Lombardi trophy for his last game. Ever. There really couldn’t be a better ending to this season of ups and downs.
It was surreal at first: the fact that my birds had won the Super Bowl. That idea really set in on Monday morning when I picked up my copy of The Baltimore Sun and “CHAMPIONS” was plastered on the front. I have been grinning ever since. All the haters, doubters, pundits, and analysts were all proven wrong. Baltimore was the real deal. Baltimore deserved respect. Baltimore had earned this victory. And that victory was so sweet. I did not sleep that much Sunday night. But the loss of sleep was so worth it. So, so, so worth it.
Hail to the Ravens!