Biggest Turning Points from Super Bowl XLVII
The 2012 NFL season has come to a close, and after 512 regular-season games and 10 postseason contests, as always, it all came down to one game.
Super Bowl XLVII featured the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers, and while many expected a closely contested affair, it appeared that the Ravens were going to run away with the Lombardi Trophy, building a 28-6 third-quarter lead.
The 49ers battled back with 17 unanswered points to narrow the gap, but the Ravens were able to hold off San Francisco and emerge with a 34-31 victory at the Mercedez-Benz Superdome in New Orleans.
A back-and-forth affair such as this featured any number of momentum-changing plays, and here's a look back at them.
An Early Miscue Leads to Points for the Ravens
The San Francisco 49ers generally aren't a team that makes a lot of mistakes, but a pair of early miscues led to the first touchdown of Super Bowl XLVII.
On the 49ers' first possession, an illegal formation penalty on tight end Vernon Davis wiped out a 20-yard gain, forcing San Francisco to punt and setting up the Ravens with excellent field position.
Then a third-down offsides call on linebacker Ahmad Brooks gave Baltimore a do-over, and Joe Flacco made Brooks and the 49ers pay by hooking up with wideout Anquan Boldin on a 13-yard scoring strike.
The 49ers Answer the Call
After the Ravens drew first blood, it was important that the 49ers answer Baltimore's touchdown with some points of their own. And to their credit, San Francisco did just that.
Colin Kaepernick drove the 49ers 62 yards in 12 plays, and while the drive stalled in the red zone after a Paul Kruger sack, David Akers split the uprights from 36 yards out to get San Francisco on the scoreboard.
Ray McDonald Comes Up Big
As the first quarter wound down, the Ravens were on the move again, thanks in large part to Joe Flacco's ability to twice elude the 49ers pass rush and complete passes to Dennis Pitta and Anquan Boldin.
However, the third time was the charm for San Francisco, and a third-down sack by DE/DT Ray McDonald not only stalled the drive, but knocked Baltimore out of field-goal range.
The Game's 1st Turnover
It's never good when a team turns the ball over, but in the Super Bowl, the magnitude of those giveaways is amplified exponentially.
The San Francisco 49ers were the first team to cough up the rock in Super Bowl XLVII.
A LaMichael James fumble in the second quarter came at a terrible time, as the 49ers had a nice drive going and seemed to be establishing some offensive momentum.
The Ravens Make the 49ers Pay for the Turnover
That fumble by James loomed even larger over Super Bowl XLVII after what the Baltimore Ravens were able to do with it.
Joe Flacco led the Ravens on a 10-play, 75-yard drive that culminated in a one-yard touchdown pass to Dennis Pitta.
The score put the Ravens up 14-3, shifted the momentum squarely into Baltimore's favor, and put a great deal of pressure on Colin Kaepernick and the Niners.
Turnovers Are the Kiss of Death...Almost
The 49ers did not respond to that pressure well.
On the first play of the ensuing drive, Kaepernick was intercepted by Ed Reed, setting up the Ravens with the ball in San Francisco territory and a chance to blow the game wide open.
However, with their backs against the wall, the 49ers defense made a potentially game-saving play, as backup safety Darcel McBath made a huge tackle to stop kicker Justin Tucker from getting the first down on a fake field-goal attempt.
Flacco Delivers a Dagger
With the first half coming to a close, the absolute last thing the San Francisco 49ers could afford to do was allow the Ravens to put any more points on the board.
Not only did they not accomplish that goal, but they failed in mind-blowing fashion.
On a 3rd-and-10 play from the Baltimore 44, the 49ers completely blew the deep coverage, allowing wide receiver Jacoby Jones to get open for a long completion.
Safeties Dashon Goldson and Donte Whitner then compounded their gaffe by not touching Jones while he was on the ground.
Jones got up, scampered into the end zone, and just like that it was 21-3 Ravens.
Kaepernick Gets the Yips
San Francisco was able to mount a drive to end the first half, but a poor decision by Kaepernick forced the team to settle for a David Akers field goal.
On 3rd-and-2 from the Baltimore 9-yard line, Kaepernick rolled out and then seemingly couldn't decide whether to throw or run.
By the time he made up his mind, there was nowhere to go, and the second-year pro fell to the ground thanks to pressure from Ray Lewis.
The 49ers were able to close the gap to 21-6, but if San Francisco was going to get back in the game, it was going to take a second straight big comeback.
The Ravens Deliver a Dagger, Part 2
It took all of 11 seconds for the Ravens to set the tone for the second half.
Jacoby Jones made his second huge play of the game as the half got underway, returning the opening kickoff 108 yards for a touchdown.
The return set a Super Bowl record, vaulted Jones into MVP consideration for the game, and put the Ravens up 28-6.
Not long after, the power went out, and half the stadium went dark.
Just like the 49ers in this game.
A Power Failure?
I wasn't kidding on that last slide.
As the San Francisco 49ers tried to rebound from Jones' long return, the lights in half of the Superdome went out with 13:22 to play in the third quarter.
Players stayed on the field and tried to stay loose, but the 35-minute delay was still an unprecedented kink in the Super Bowl proceedings and a moment that will be talked about for years, especially given the effect it had on the flow of the game.
The 49ers Get Back in It
Once the power came back on, the lights appeared to finally come on for the San Francisco 49ers offense.
Colin Kaepernick led the 49ers on an 81-yard drive that was capped off with a 31-yard touchdown pass to Michael Crabtree, cutting the lead to 28-13.
Then a quick three-and-out by the Ravens led to a punt that was returned by Ted Ginn to the 20-yard line, and two plays later Frank Gore punched it in to the end zone.
Two touchdowns in less than three minutes, and all of a sudden the Ravens lead was down to 28-20 and we had a ballgame on our hands.
Ray Rice Coughs It Up
The impact of the Superdome power outage can't be overstated, because it was a completely different game thereafter.
Ravens running back Ray Rice, who didn't lose a fumble all season long, coughed the ball up for the third time in the playoffs on the team's next drive, setting the 49ers up deep in Ravens territory.
The defense held, and it appeared Baltimore had dodged a bullet when David Akers' 39-yard field goal sailed wide.
However, the Ravens were flagged for running into Akers, and the do-over attempt was good, cutting Baltimore's lead to 28-23.
The Ravens Stem the Tide
As Super Bowl XLVII neared the end of the third quarter, the Baltimore Ravens desperately needed to stem the rising tide of San Francisco momentum and get some points on the board.
As he had all game long, Joe Flacco, who was named Super Bowl MVP, responded.
Flacco led the Ravens on a 12-play, 71-yard drive that took more than five minutes off the clock.
The Ravens were unable to get into the end zone, but Justin Tucker punched through a chip-shot field goal that stretched the lead back to eight.
The 49ers Storm Right Back
The Ravens needed that field goal, because the 49ers' second-half surge continued unabated.
San Francisco wasted no time in responding, driving 76 yards in less than three minutes.
Kaepernick ran it in from 15 yards out, and while the two-point conversion attempt was unsuccessful, a 28-6 Baltimore lead had suddenly all but evaporated, as the score was now 31-29 Baltimore with about 10 minutes remaining in the contest.
The Ravens Respond...Again
By now, Super Bowl XLVII had reached the home stretch. It's in the final half of the fourth quarter of a close game such as this where entire careers can be defined by one play or drive.
With the Ravens nursing a tenuous two-point lead, Joe Flacco and the Ravens once again put together a solid drive, marching 59 yards in 10 plays while milking another five minutes off the clock.
Justin Tucker's 38-yard field goal extended Baltimore's lead to 34-29 and shifted the pressure squarely onto the shoulders of Jim Harbaugh and the 49ers.
A Goal-Line Stand Decides the Game
For a moment, it appeared that the Niners were set to pull off the biggest comeback in Super Bowl history.
The 49ers marched right down the field, and by the time the two-minute warning sounded, San Francisco had driven inside the Baltimore 10-yard line.
San Francisco would get no closer.
The 49ers called a very questionable fade route on 4th-and-goal, and though there was quite a bit of contact on the play, no flag was thrown.
That pass fell incomplete, the Ravens killed the clock before taking a safety on fourth down, and Super Bowl XLVII was in the books.
The Baltimore Ravens are world champions, defeating the San Francisco 49ers 34-31.