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Super Bowl XLVII: Ranking the 10 Biggest Plays from the Game

Andrew H. SmithContributor IIIFebruary 4, 2013

Super Bowl XLVII: Ranking the 10 Biggest Plays from the Game

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    In a game that took over four hours and saw everything from a controversial non-call to the longest play in Super Bowl history, there is plenty to dissect from last night's big game in the Big Easy.

    The Ravens and 49ers were expected to compete in a physical and defensive struggle, but the game evolved into a surprising shootout.   

    Baltimore rode the arm of Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco to a 21-6 halftime lead. Flacco tossed three touchdown passes and finished the playoffs without throwing a single interception.  

    The Ravens appeared to be running away with a rout early in the second half, but then a 34-minute power outage inexplicably swung momentum in the San Francisco 49ers' favor, leading to a dramatic fourth-quarter finish.

    Baltimore's big-play offense and timely contributions from special teams and defense ultimately proved too much for the 49ers to handle. Meanwhile, San Francisco will have plenty to second-guess, from questionable play-calling to uncharacteristic penalties.

    From the extraordinary to the bizarre, here are 10 of the most memorable plays of Super Bowl XLVII.  

Early Error by Vernon Davis

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    Somewhere, Jim Harbaugh is thinking about this play in the back of his mind.

    After two weeks of preparation leading up to Super Bowl XLVII, San Francisco's first play on offense was off-set by a penalty.

    Colin Kaepernick hit tight end Vernon Davis for a 20-yard completion, only for the play to be called back because Davis was lined by up an illegal formation. The drive stalled, and the 49ers went three-and-out.

    This play will not make highlight reels anywhere, but it was extremely crucial because it revealed San Francisco's nerves at the start of the game. Immediately, the mental edge in the game swung in the Ravens' favor. It is important to set an early tone, especially in a Super Bowl, and the 49ers offense was unable to do that. 

Anquan Boldin 13-Yard Touchdown

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    Whereas San Francisco's offense sputtered on its first possession, the Ravens wasted little time cashing in on their first drive of the game.

    Offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell was aggressive with his play-calling and Joe Flacco was relaxed in the pocket, leading Baltimore's offense down the field at will.

    Flacco completed the drive by throwing a 13-yard dart across the middle of the field to Anquan Boldin. It was Boldin's fourth touchdown of the playoffs.   

LaMichael James' Fumble

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    If there is one thing that will deflate your team, it is a turnover to end a promising drive.

    Down 7-3 early in the second quarter, the 49ers offense finally found a rhythm and appeared to be moving for another score.

    LaMichael James took a hand-off from Kaepernick to the right side of his offensive line and was immediately swarmed by Baltimore defenders.

    James fought valiantly to get back to the line of scrimmage, but Ravens lineman Courtney Upshaw jarred the ball loose. Baltimore recovered the football and was back in business on offense.   

The 'Ball Hawk' Strikes Again

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    Ed Reed has always had a knack for finding the football, but in the second quarter of Super Bowl XLVII, the football found him.

    Trailing 14-3, the 49ers desperately needed a sustained drive to rest their defense and tilt momentum in their favor.

    Instead, San Francisco committed its second consecutive turnover. 

    Kaepernick, clearly feeling the pressure of the Super Bowl stage, threw a pass meant for Randy Moss. Instead, the football sailed right over Moss (who appeared to quit on the play) and into Reed's waiting arms.

The Most Unnecessary Fake Field Goal Ever

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    In the famous words of Gordon Gekko, "greed is good."

    However, John Harbaugh got a little too greedy midway through the second quarter.

    Sensing an opportunity for an early knockout punch, Harbaugh sent the Baltimore field-goal unit on the field to execute a 4th-and-9 fake field goal run.  

    Baltimore kicker Justin Tucker received a direct snap and ran towards the sideline, but was tackled a yard short of the first-down marker.  

    While the aggressiveness of Harbaugh is commendable, he should have settled for a field-goal attempt with a commanding 14-3 lead.

Jacoby Jones 56-Yard Touchdown

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    San Francisco's secondary had shown signs of cracking against the Atlanta Falcons and Green Bay Packers, but broke just before halftime in Super Bowl XLVII.  

    Jacoby Jones sliced through the 49ers secondary like a knife through butter and hauled in a 56-yard touchdown catch from Joe Flacco. 

    Jones has made a living as Baltimore's deep threat in the playoffs, most notably when he received a 70-yard touchdown pass against the Denver Broncos.

    On this play, he caught Flacco's pass at the 7-yard-line and fell to his back without being touched. He quickly got up and sprinted into the end zone to give the Ravens a 21-3 lead.  

    Baltimore widened its lead and received the kickoff to open the second half, which would prove to be costly for the 49ers.  

The Return Heard 'Round the World

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    With respect to Joe Flacco, who was magnificent, Jacoby Jones should have been named Super Bowl MVP.  

    Jones stood deep in his end zone to receive the second-half kickoff and torched through San Francisco's special teams en route to the longest play in Super Bowl history with a 108-yard return touchdown.  

    With the touchdown, Jones became the first player in Super Bowl history to find the end zone on offense as well as special teams.

    Baltimore's lead now stretched to 28-6, and it was turning Super Bowl XLVII into a rout.

So Close, Yet So Far Away

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    After power was restored in the Superdome, the 49ers rattled off 17 unanswered points to close Baltimore's lead to 28-23. 

    Colin Kaepernick's 15-yard touchdown run brought San Francisco even closer early in the fourth quarter at 31-29. 

    But on the ensuing two-point conversion attempt, Kaepernick threw the football away early because of heavy pressure from a Baltimore blitz.  

    If San Francisco had converted, the dynamic for the remainder of the fourth quarter would have been much different. Instead, the 49ers needed to score a touchdown and not a field goal, which would prove to be their ultimate undoing.

3rd-and-1

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    After San Francisco closed the score to 31-29, the Ravens offense desperately needed a sustained drive of their own to kill the clock and keep the surging 49ers offense on the sidelines.

    On 3rd-and-1, Flacco anticipated the San Francisco defense would be playing to stop Ray Rice from converting a crucial first down, so he called an audible directed for Boldin.

    Flacco threw a jump ball in Boldin's direction, and he came down with a brilliant catch. 49ers corner Carlos Rogers could not have played the pass any better, but Boldin simply out-muscled him to complete the reception and continue the Ravens drive. 

    Baltimore would go on to add another field goal from Tucker and extend its lead to 34-29.  

49ers' Last Gasp

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    Of all the plays and formations that the 49ers have in their playbook, they left their season to chance by running a goal-line fade on the deciding play of the game.  

    On 4th-and-goal, Baltimore brought another heavy blitz against Kaepernick, and he threw an attempted pass to Michael Crabtree which helplessly sailed out of bounds.  

    Crabtree appeared to be tangled up with Ravens corner Jimmy Smith, but no flags were thrown and San Francisco's fate was sealed.

    Jim Harbaugh and the 49ers coaching staff were understandably irate on the sidelines, and the no-call promises to be a controversial discussion point for years to come.

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