Super Bowl XLVII almost gave me a heart attack. Scratch that. Multiple heart attacks. My hair is probably going gray faster, if not falling out altogether.
You see, the Baltimore Ravens are my football team. Always have been, always will be. And this was a tough game for us. To be honest, not really tougher than our other post-season games, as only ONE of our playoff games this season was one in which the experts gave us a chance, but tough nonetheless.
And there was a lot at stake. Ray Lewis’s last year. Possibly Ed Reed’s too. Who knows what might have happened with Joe Flacco and Anquan Boldin had this year once again slipped away without the big prize. And let’s not forget the passing of Art Modell, a fantastic owner without whom I wouldn’t even HAVE a hometown team to root for. If there was any year since 2000 where we were going to get to the big show, this had to be the one.
Thankfully, I didn’t have to drink aggressively and loudly grump after the game and everything worked out for the best. BUT I thought I’d share some thoughts of the game.
Joe Flacco IS playing like an elite quarterback, and Baltimore’s Offense is credible and diverse.
Now, if you ask me, it’s better by a factor of roughly infinity for other people (other players, the media, fans, perhaps a coach or a coordinator) to refer to you as elite instead of opting to do so yourself. Because it makes you look like an arrogant prick that people enjoy hating on, especially if you’ve decided to grow a supervillain-esque fu manchu or perhaps if you’re unable to back up your claims with sufficient numbers.
BUT, Joe Flacco in this post season played like the MVP he was. 11 TDs. 0 Interceptions. Only 1 forced fumble. Over 1100 yds and a rating of 117.2. Those are elite numbers.
It makes me wonder how much of his previous mediocrity was due to the presence of Cam Cameron, the not-too-well-liked former offensive coordinator who was replaced towards the end of the season by Jim Caldwell. After Caldwell’s hiring, Joe seemed to do much better, so perhaps they have a solid rapport. Or perhaps it was all Joe the whole time, and he’s just mentally settling into the mindset he needs. Whatever the case, I’m glad that Baltimore actually has a good quarterback.
And not only a good quarterback, a solid offense with consistency and a diversity of threats. Christ, I remember back in the day when the offense consisted of Kyle Boller not completing passes, Todd Heap running around frustrated because he wasn’t going to get passes, and the opposing defense knowing enough to just beat the hell out of Jamaal Lewis cause he was the only way we were gonna get on the board. Now we’ve got one of the best RBs in the league in Ray Rice, an EXCELLENT new addition in Bernard Pierce, and a receiver corps of Boldin, Smith, Jones, Pitta, Dickson, and even Rice and FB Leach. I’m hopeful that can remain somewhat consistent cause I like what I’m seeing.
Colin Kaepernick is the real deal.
Last Thanksgiving (in 2011), after gorging myself on all the fried turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and gravy (DO NOT forget the gravy, it’s essential) I could force down my gullet, I sat down to watch the Ravens play the 49ers. We weren’t favored to win that game either.
We then proceeded to absolutely curbstomp San Fransisco, stifling their offense at every available opportunity and getting a franchise record number of sacks on Alex Smith. It was brutal.
This game wasn’t like that. And the reason is one Colin Kaepernick.
Kaepernick had me cursing up a blue streak in the 3rd quarter, completely and utterly dismantling the Ravens’ defense and putting up like 17 unanswered points in 4 minutes. (I didn’t cry…that’s my story and I’m sticking to it) He can throw with the best of them, he came up with some great plays, and that S.O.B. is very mobile. And not only is he mobile, but he’s mobile and SMART. Kaepernick isn’t gonna get RGIII’ed anytime soon. When he runs, you usually see him cut outside routes that might lead to him getting pushed out of bounds and not out for the season with a destroyed knee. That mobility, coupled with his ability to connect with receivers or just hand it off to the beast otherwise known as Frank Gore will make him a threat for A LONG time.
Rough beats Alex Smith. Sorry buddy.
I’d appreciate it if Baltimore got it’s Defense together
MAN we almost let that game slip away. Like I was positive that we did. Especially after Haloti Ngata left the game, the 49ers were scoring with the run whenever they wanted to and it seemed like Reed and Pollard couldn’t quite get there for the big interceptions. Baltimore used to be a team known for its defensive prowess, now they’re mostly old. Oh, and we allowed like 400+ yards, so that’s no good. There is a wealth of experience and talent, but it could probably use some reinvigoration.
(Sidenote Post-script: I do really like the look of Ellerbe, and I’m excited for Ladarius Webb’s return from injury next season so perhaps the defensive future isn’t all that bad and I’m just being a grumpypants.)
Which brings me to…
I’m not exactly sure what role Ray Lewis played on the defense in this game. (Tangibly)
Don’t get me wrong. I think this man quite possibly the best to ever play his position, and the fact that he played together with some many other defensive staples for so long is a testament to Baltimore’s fierce defensive reputation. I mean the man is a walking highlight reel.
But poor 52 was showing his age on Sunday. He had some tackles, sure, but Davis and Crabtree were running across him with abandon and he was pretty much helpless to stop them. He was slowing down, he didn’t get to some of those tackles on time. And although I haven’t done it myself, playing with a bionic arm probably didn’t help too much. And he definitely doesn’t hit like he used to.
Ed Reed is also getting a bit older, although his role was a little easier to identify; afterall he did have that solid interception in the 1st quarter and his blitz on Kaepernick later resulted in a crucial incomplete pass. But it doesn’t take a genius to see that Reed too is showing his age. He misses some tackles more often, and he makes it just a bit to late for some passes that would have been surefire interceptions a few years ago.
All things considered, this entire thought is probably just one gigantic humblebrag, as I’m talking about how some of the greatest defensive players ever aren’t quite so great anymore. But it’s undeniable that they aren’t the role players they used to be. I think their intangibles (their leadership presence on the field, their seniority and tenured careers that make them role models among their peers, and their almost prescient knowledge of the upcoming plays) made them lynchpins over raw talent and numbers, and Lewis will be sorely missed. (Sidenote: I also REALLY hope Reed retires as a Raven but I fear that he’ll go to those damn Patriots for one last hurrah as his contract is up and I don’t know if Baltimore will pay to keep him)
I’m very interested to see what new defensive blood does for the Ravens.
If you’re ahead, avoid cataclysmic power outages
I live in California these days, and so of course on Monday morning when I walked into work with my Ray Lewis jersey more than a few people decided to bring up that 4th down “no-call.”
First of all, while there are legitimate grounds for calling it there (I would have been mad but reasonable had they called it), I have no pity for the 49ers because:
1) Crabtree initiated contact
2) I have no idea how the 49ers hadn’t already scored on our tired, dilapidated defense that seemed to be absolutely powerless against kryptoni…I mean Frank Gore
3) They got a 40 MINUTE TIME OUT WITH WHICH TO RECHARGE AND STRIP AWAY OUR MOMENTUM.
A lot of sports writers don’t seem to believe in the concept of momentum. I think they are doofuses (doofi? I’m unclear on this). We had just run back a kickoff for a 108-yd touchdown and had them on 3rd and 13 with nothing going on. And they basically get another halftime to reconfigure the gameplan and decide on something else to do. If that f***ing power outage doesn’t happen, that game is blowout city.
SO, just a heads up, if you’re team is ahead, pray that the stadium keeps the lights on.
Beyonce was awesome
Despite a performance probably responsible for the power outage that almost gave me a stroke, Beyonce absolutely killed it. Yes, Prince was really good a few years back, but I am confident and comfortable in saying that this was the best halftime show I’ve ever seen. It was fun, it was total sensory overload, it was fun and sexy and current. I really dug it, and I thought there was little doubt that Beyonce performed her heart out.
I wish I could find the twitter, but I didn’t retweet it so it’s basically lost to us, but it was definitely my favorite quote of the super bowl. It was something like “Jim Harbaugh was definitely the kid who unplugged the Nintendo when John was winning.”
I was also tremendously entertained by the tantrums they threw. John’s not bad at it, but Jim is an absolute master. I look forward to more of that next year.
Thanks for reading (and GO RAVENS!)