Super Bowl 2013: X-Factors Who Will Lead a Ravens Upset over the 49ers

Joseph ZuckerFeatured ColumnistFebruary 3, 2013

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 20:  Bernard Pierce #30 of the Baltimore Ravens runs the ball against the New England Patriots during the 2013 AFC Championship game at Gillette Stadium on January 20, 2013 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

If the Baltimore Ravens are to win Super Bowl XLVII, they need performances from every one of their players.

Joe Flacco, Ed Reed, Ray Rice and Ray Lewis are getting all of the headlines and rightfully so. Those four are some of the biggest reasons the Ravens find themselves one win away from lifting the Lombardi Trophy.

The San Francisco 49ers are a very good football team. Regardless of how good Flacco, Reed Lewis and Rice have been, they are not enough to secure a win.

The Ravens will demand a total team effort in order to get past the 49ers. With a game that looks as close as this, it's often a lightly regarded player who can make all the difference.

With that in mind, here are three players who could be unsung heroes for the Ravens.

Dennis Pitta, TE

Dennis Pitta isn't going to make any huge plays that end up on the Super Bowl highlight reel. He definitely won't be the main target for Joe Flacco, either. Pitta's 669 yards receiving were only third on the team during the regular season.

Where Pitta will excel, though, is inside the red zone. There isn't a receiver on the Ravens who's a better target inside the 20-yard line.

Four of his seven touchdown receptions during the regular season came in the red zone. He's added another two touchdown receptions in the playoffs.

He's a nice option to have for Flacco. Baltimore would be at a huge advantage by getting touchdowns instead of field goals when it gets inside or at least near the end zone.

Bernard Pierce, RB

Ray Rice will get the majority of carries for the Ravens. When he's taking a rest, the Ravens will get a huge boost if Bernard Pierce can continue to build upon his solid postseason. In the three playoff rounds, Pierce has run for 169 yards on 27 carries.

With his size, Pierce can be a bit of a change of pace when compared to the much smaller Rice.

Nobody will be asking Pierce to carry the ball 20-plus times against the 49ers. If he can run the ball about 10 times and average four or five yards a carry, then he will have done his job.

Maybe he could break out for the kind of game he had against the Indianapolis Colts, when he went for 103 yards. That would put him on pace for MVP consideration.

Justin Tucker, K

Justin Tucker was one of the more reliable kickers in the league during the regular season. He finished 30-of-33 on field goals during the regular season and is a perfect 2-of-2 in the postseason.

It doesn't happen too often, but kickers can decide Super Bowls. Scott Norwood and Adam Vinatieri will be remembered forever because of what they did in the biggest game of the season.

This matchup will likely be pretty close. The Ravens can't afford to leave points on the board by missing field goals or not trusting their kicker enough to make one at a crucial juncture and choose to punt or go for it instead.

Tucker has the ability and mental focus to be able to secure a vital three points should he be called upon.