Big Super Bowl XLVII Moments That Nobody's Talking About
In the midst of Super Bowl XLVII's exhilarating finish, record-setting touchdowns and temporary power failure, several keys are overlooked in Baltimore's 34-31 victory.
Most of the attention for Baltimore's success is on Joe Flacco's touchdown passes, Jacoby Jones' kickoff return for a touchdown and the defensive stop for the Ravens in the red zone. San Francisco's miscues were highlighted by two first-half turnovers, a few incomplete deep passes and missing the two-point attempt to tie the game in the fourth quarter.
However, starting with the first play of the game under center, vital moments that might not necessarily make the highlight reel helped the Ravens win their second Super Bowl.
It's always important to get off to a hot start on the biggest stage. Unfortunately for San Francisco, the 49ers did the exact opposite.
On the first play from scrimmage, Colin Kaepernick found Vernon Davis for a 20-yard gain, but the play was called back for an illegal formation penalty. The 49ers ran three plays for a total of three yards and were forced to punt from deep inside their own territory.
After Baltimore took over on its own 49-yard line, the Ravens moved inside the red zone, but were stopped on a third and nine. However, San Francisco was called for offsides on the play and Joe Flacco hit Anquan Boldin for a touchdown on the next play.
Those two infractions by San Francisco changed field position, momentum and eventually the score.
If the 49ers had managed to sustain an opening drive or hold the Ravens to three points, this game could have been a different story from start to finish.
Kaepernick's Misfire to the End Zone
After the Ravens scored the first touchdown of the game, the 49ers needed a response.
San Francisco drove 72 yards to the Baltimore 8-yard line, but couldn't finish the drive with a touchdown.
When Baltimore brought a blitz on second and goal, Kaepernick was instantly under duress, but escaped the rush. With a wide open Michael Crabtree and Randy Moss in the end zone, Kaepernick's throw was high and went off the hands of Crabtree.
Kaepernick was sacked by Paul Kruger on the next play and the 49ers settled for a field goal.
Considering the San Francisco offensive line unable to pick up the Baltimore pressure, it was a tough play for the 49ers quarterback to make. Although, it's a play that gives San Francisco a much needed spark to match Baltimore's quick start.
With a young quarterback in the NFL, had Kaepernick made that play to tie the game, it's possible that confidence would have allowed him to find his groove a little sooner.
While Colin Kaepernick made several plays with his legs, he wasn't the only quarterback buying time outside the pocket.
As Garrett Downing of BaltimoreRavens.com points out, the Ravens have made a strong effort to increase their ability to move the pocket.
Throughout the game, there were several moments where the 49ers got pressure on Joe Flacco. Even though the Baltimore quarterback wasn't taking off past the line of scrimmage, he forced the secondary of the 49ers to cover the Ravens wide receivers for a long period of time.
In the first quarter with a third and seven on Baltimore's 36-yard line, Flacco avoided the San Francisco blitz, rolled out to his right and launched a 30-yard completion to Boldin near the sideline.
This was a sign of things to come.
Flacco was sacked twice, but he dodged the pressure on multiple occasions. More importantly, even if the result was throwing the ball away, the Super Bowl MVP never turned the ball over.
In a game where people remember defining plays, limiting the opponents' highlights is equally important in becoming a Super Bowl champion.
Boldin's Catch and Run
After the power outage, all the momentum shifted to San Francisco. The 49ers scored 17 points in just over four minutes of game clock, and the Ravens needed a play to hold off San Francisco's surge.
With the score 28-23 in the third quarter and Baltimore facing a third down, the Ravens got one. Flacco found Boldin on a short completion that led to Boldin running down the sideline for a 30-yard gain.
That boost flipped the field position, and Baltimore was able to extend their drive to the 12:54 mark in the fourth quarter. While the Ravens did end up settling for a field goal, Baltimore picked up two more first downs and the running game improved momentarily.
Had the Ravens failed to convert on that play, the 49ers would have gotten the ball back with two minutes left in the third quarter. For how San Francisco was moving the ball in the second half, an extra four minutes easily could have been a difference maker.
Timeout Usage in the 2nd Half
The third-quarter run by the 49ers began when Colin Kaepernick found Michael Crabtree for a 31-yard touchdown, but what happened two plays earlier?
After San Francisco converted a crucial third and eight to move into Baltimore territory, the 49ers took their first timeout of the second half.
While the 49ers touchdown was significant, not being ready on first down at midfield eventually had its price.
Then with 1:55 remaining in the game when San Francisco was on the verge of scoring the potential game-winning touchdown, the 49ers called a timeout on 3rd-and-goal from the 5-yard line.
It's obviously important that the 49ers make the right call or don't take a five-yard penalty in the red zone, but how can their not be a stronger game plan just one play after the two-minute warning?
As a result, San Francisco could only stop the clock once after the turnover on downs. Baltimore was able to take a safety at the end of the game and finish off the 49ers on the kickoff.
Even if the 49ers had one additional timeout on Baltimore's final possession, the extra 40 seconds would have given San Francisco an extra chance to drive for a touchdown with at least decent field position.