Ranking the Best (and Absolute Worst) of Everything from Super Bowl Sunday
There were memorable moments throughout Super Bowl Sunday, from the pregame to the touchdowns to the commercials to, yes, the insane blackout that (almost) changed history forever.
Through it all—from early afternoon to almost midnight, as the Baltimore Ravens defeated the San Francisco 49ers 34-31—we watched the CBS coverage to pull out highs and lows.
Our list alternates between bad and good—with the photos, videos and GIFs that captured the moments—before finishing with the best of the best. Please leave your favorite (and least favorite) memories in the comments.
The Worst: Pregame Food and Music on CBS
Let's be clear about something, CBS: the Super Bowl was in New Orleans. There is no reason Rachael Ray should ever be on your network during a Super Bowl in New Orleans. I don't care if she has a show on your network or if she's secretly Les Moonves' daughter or something—get a real New Orleans chef on the damn show.
Hell, they could have asked Emeril, who is New Orleans-enough for TV. Or CBS could have done the right thing and get a real, bona fide New Orleans chef to do the cooking segment.
On that note, why is Matchbox Twenty doing the pregame concert? Is that the NFL's fault for booking them? Why did CBS put that on the air?
Again, the game is in New Orleans! Where's Trombone Shorty?
The Best: Musicians Village
CBS did do right by the New Orleans music scene with a wonderful piece on Musicians Village and the Ellis Marsalis Music Center. It was a truly fantastic look at the importance of history and music in the Crescent City.
The Worst: Puppy Bowl
Remember when it used to be about the puppies? Animal Planet decided to intersperse the action of puppies being cute with the human morons on their weekly TV programs cheering along and being generally moronic. Nearly every shot of the dogs was cut in with clips of the, ahem, stars of Animal Planet's programming.
If the Puppy Bowl can jump the shark, it did this year.
Still, the puppies are really cute.
The Best: President Obama, Rock'Em and Sock'Em
Scott Pelley of CBS News had the distinction of interviewing President Barack Obama during the pregame show, and he asked just one sports question before moving on to all political talk. He didn't even ask the POTUS for a prediction (though we did hear the Obamas were having wings).
Still, ever the avid sports fan, Mr. Obama threw in a little old-school reference when talking about the balance between our love of football and the need for greater safety (via Matt Smith of CNN):
For those of us who like to see a big hit and enjoy the rock 'em, sock 'em elements of the game, we're probably going to be occasionally frustrated. We want to make sure that after people have played the game, that they're going to be OK.
The President does remember how Rock'em Sock'em Robots ends, right?
The Worst: Budweiser Black Crown Ad
Dear Budweiser, the only people not watching the Super Bowl are the people you have in this commercial. It's fine that you're finally trying to cater to the swanky "all-black-wearing hipster" crowd, but two ads in the Super Bowl may have been misplaced.
Also, pretentious ads are for liquor, not beer.
The Best: Audi Prom Kiss
One of the best ads of the night. There were a few "nerdy kid gets the girl" ads this year, but this one was realistic and fun. Come on, we all wish we were that kid, driving that car, kissing that girl.
It was worth the punch, too.
The Worst: Colin Kaepernick's Mom Talking Tattoos
I'm not even going to link to David Whitley's article from earlier in the season equating Colin Kaepernick to an inmate at San Quentin because of his tattoos.
The fact his mother had to address the horrible piece of garbage article in a taped video piece during the CBS pregame show on the quarterback's life with his adopted family was a horrible moment for sportswriting, and the league.
The Best: Jennifer Hudson and the Kids from Sandy Hook
No matter what happened in the game, this was one of the best moments of the day.
The Worst: Phil Simms
It's amazing that Phil Simms is still, after all these years, the best option as a color analyst for CBS. Simms consistently failed to give viewers anything more than they could see with their own eyes, eschewing second-level analysis for straight narration on replays.
Early in the game, Simms punted on the chance for critical analysis of the Ravens' fake field goal, spending the time explaining what happened on the play. It wasn't until after the 49ers went three-and-out that Simms gave an opinion on the fake attempt at all.
In the fourth quarter, Simms did offer an opinion, questioning the use of a challenge by the 49ers on the spot of a key first down. Upon seeing the replay, he immediately changed his opinion, making a joke when they came back from break that he liked the decision.
On the play that decided the Super Bowl, Simms was heard saying he thought a potential hold was a "good no-call" when replays showed two arms draped around the receiver. Even if you agree that the referees should let the players play in that spot, the visuals didn't help Simms at all.
Frankly, I'll never understand why CBS hasn't put Boomer Esiason in the TV booth instead of Simms. While Esiason may be grating on the CBS studio show, he is very good calling games on radio. When CBS reevaluates their talent in the offseason, the lead booth is the first place they should look.
The Best: Leon Sandcastle
Leave it to the Chiefs to draft a guy in his 40s. NICE WORK, ANDY REID.
The Worst: Doritos Are for Goats
Hi. We are Doritos. Goats love our snack chips and you will too.
The Best: Oreo Library Massacre
I want to go to my local library after seeing this Oreo ad, ask who likes the cookie better than the cream, and fight them just like this.
The cookie? The people who prefer the Oreo cookie to the cream are the same people who drank beer because it was "less filling."
If this was the cookie reboot of that old food and drink debate campaign, it worked. Now shhhhh!
The Worst: Speed Stick Ad
There were some good ads and some really good ads (which we'll get to), but there weren't too many that were truly terrible.
This ad for Speed Stick was truly terrible.
The Best: Beyonce and Destiny's Child
Really, when we remember this Super Bowl, we have to think Beyonce won the damn thing, don't we?
The Worst: Ray Lewis Interview with Shannon Sharpe
With Ray Lewis retiring, Shannon Sharpe got the final CBS interview with the future first-ballot Hall of Famer. Most thought Sharpe would throw softballs, but instead, he pressed Lewis about his past. He did a great job asking direct, pointed questions about the double-murder that has shackled his image nationwide.
Lewis essentially refused to answer the questions, invoking God wherever he could. Lewis answered a question about the families of two murdered men hoping people remember their fallen relatives when we laud Lewis' career with "God doesn't make mistakes."
In Lewis' mind, those two men were killed because they were supposed to die as part of God's plan. That's what he told Shannon Sharpe in an interview that aired just hours before the Super Bowl. This cannot be forgotten.
The Best/Worst: The End-Zone No-Call
I put this in the middle to break up the best and the worst, because it really depends on which team you were rooting for, for how this play is seen. Either it's a great no-call, as Phil Simms was trying to say despite video evidence to the contrary, or it's a horrible no-call that cost the 49ers the Super Bowl.
At real speed, I don't really fault the officials for keeping their flags in their pants. Still, I see how San Francisco could be upset.
(NOTE: You will notice the rest of the moments are listed as The Best because they are all game moments and the Worst for one team was certainly the Best for the other.)
The Best: Colin Kaepernick's Near-MVP Day
Despite the loss, and looking frazzled at times, Colin Kaepernick proved he can play at an extremely high level on the biggest stage, helping to lead San Francisco back into the Super Bowl.
Look, the kid was five yards—and a potential holding call—away from being the Super Bowl MVP in his own right. He finished the game with 302 yards passing, 62 yards rushing and two total touchdowns to one interception.
San Francisco has a lot to be excited about.
The Best: Joe Flacco
How do you spell elite? M-V-P.
Joe Flacco proved he is one of the game's best quarterbacks with his performance, earning MVP honors and leading the Ravens to another Super Bowl title.
There was a time when Baltimore relied on its defense and running game, asking the quarterback to manage the game and not lose it for them. Not anymore. Without Flacco, the Ravens would have been home watching this game. Now, they're champions.
The Best: Jacoby Jones Kickoff Return (and Dance)
What's better than scoring a 108-yard touchdown on the opening kickoff of the second half of the Super Bowl?
If you're Jacoby Jones, the only thing better is doing Ray Lewis' signature dance as your celebration.
The Best: Ray Lewis, Champion
You can hate Ray Lewis and call him a phony and a fraud and, as some have, a murderer and throw every insult in the world at him and it's not going to change the one most important thing about him: He is an amazing leader of men.
The inspiration Lewis gave to his teammates helped carry them through the playoffs to another championship. He may have lost a step or three in his career, but nobody can motivate his team better than Lewis.
As a character, the NFL will surely miss him.
The Best: I Love You
In the aftermath of the Super Bowl, John and Jim Harbaugh met in the middle of the field and shook hands like coaches, but spoke like brothers.
"Hey, I love you," is what older brother John said to his younger brother, Jim. What else can you say after beating your brother to win the Super Bowl you both always dreamed of winning?
In a world of chaos on the field, it was a perfect family moment.
The Best: Who Turned off the Lights?
Not only was the power outage the most memorable moment of the Super Bowl—or, perhaps, of any Super Bowl—it was also the best moment.
The Ravens were off and running, and while Jacoby Jones' kickoff return TD was amazing, it just added to the fact we were in the midst of a blowout.
Then, the power went out, the Ravens cooled off and it literally looked like the 49ers flipped a switch, turning one of the worst Super Bowl games in terms of competitiveness immediately into one of the best.
Thank you, horrible power grid in New Orleans, for giving us a memory, and a Super Bowl, we won't soon forget.