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Future Hall of Famer Ray Lewis saw his ‘last ride’ end in perfect fashion as the Baltimore Ravens saw off a spirited comeback from the San Francisco 49ers to triumph 34-31 at Super Bowl XLVII. The game also saw quarterback Joe Flacco named Super Bowl MVP after a nearly faultless performance.
Legendary linebacker Lewis opted to defer after winning the toss, a decision which was vindicated soon after when he helped the Ravens defense restrict the 49ers offense to a quick three and out.
Baltimore’s offense, keen not to be outdone by their defense, quickly laid down a similar marker. They moved swiftly down the field in a drive which culminated in a 13-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Anquan Boldin.
San Francisco made a statement of their own on their next drive, moving seemingly effortlessly up the field. Once they entered the Red Zone however, the Baltimore defense immediately looked to tighten up. A sack from Paul Kruger helped restrict San Francisco to a successful field goal from David Akers.
The 49ers registering on the scoreboard seemed to spur the Ravens into a higher gear, and Baltimore’s defense registered two quick turnovers, the first a forced fumble from Courtney Upshaw, and the second an Ed Reed interception. The Ravens capitalized on both, with quarterback Flacco showing his ‘elite’ credentials, hitting Dennis Pitta and Jacoby Jones for touchdowns on the respective drives.
San Francisco managed to double their points tally late in the second quarter, successfully landing another field goal, which sent them into the halftime break trailing 21-6. Quarterback Colin Kaepernick had look rattled up until the late scoring drive, but his key role in overcoming a 17-point deficit against the Atlanta Falcons previously had 49ers fans remaining fairly confident over their chances in the second half.
Clearly, Jim Harbaugh had his work cut out in the locker room at the half, but it looked as if John Harbaugh had more success, with Jones returning the subsequent kickoff for a 108-yard touchdown, tying the NFL record.
The 49ers ensuing drive was of critical importance. If San Francisco were to have any chance of a comeback, they needed a score. A disruptive loss of power then sparked a monumental swing in momentum, despite the Ravens defense holding strong and forcing the 49ers into a three and out.
A 31-yard Michael Crabtree touchdown midway through the third quarter brought the 49ers to within 15 points of the Ravens and gave much needed hope to an ailing 49ers side. Hope was then compounded by the San Francisco defense, who forced the previously ruthless Baltimore offense into a three and out.
Ted Ginn’s punt return to Baltimore’s 20-yard line gave the 49ers excellent field position as Kaepernick went back to work, first finding Vernon Davis with a precision pass, before Frank Gore ran untouched into the end zone.
Things then went from bad to worse for Baltimore as running back Ray Rice fumbled deep in Ravens territory, which was recovered by San Francisco and eventually a field goal kicked, leaving the score at 28-23 to Baltimore.
The Ravens were in dire need of a score on their next drive. A big gain down the sideline by Boldin put Baltimore into 49ers territory, but the San Francisco defense came up strong in the Red Zone, limiting the Ravens to a field goal.
The Ravens reprieve was short lived however as Kaepernick lead the 49ers down the field in just three plays, and then sped into the end zone on a 15-yard rush. The two-point conversion was unsuccessful however, and Baltimore maintained a two point lead.
Time management was now on both teams’ minds. A Ravens’ drive, ending in a field goal by Justin Tucker, increased their lead to five points with just over four minutes left on the clock.
The 49ers drive made it to the Baltimore’s 7-yard line by the two minute warning, but the Ravens forced a turnover on downs with some fierce defense. The Ravens were then unable to get a first down and wind down the clock, but gave up an intentional safety in order to take as much time off the clock as possible. The 49ers attempted to return the resulting punt, but with just four seconds left on the clock, they were unable to do so.
Lewis’ legacy cemented. Reed won his first Super Bowl in his hometown. Flacco proved, perhaps unequivocally, that he is an elite quarterback. John Harbaugh won the ‘HarBowl’. The storylines were concluded in dramatic fashion, amidst scenes of euphoria for the Baltimore Ravens.
The Baltimore Ravens, World Champions.