Joe Flacco put together a near-unstoppable performance as the Baltimore Ravens knocked off the San Francisco 49ers 34-31 on Sunday night to win Super Bowl XLVII.
The polarizing quarterback and his bevy of weapons attacked Chris Culliver and the Niners secondary with ease, and the Ravens survived a huge second-half comeback by San Francisco to crown themselves champions of the NFL.
In the end, Flacco finished with 287 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions.
Bruce Feldman @BruceFeldmanCFB
Joe Flacco in the past two years in the post-season: 15 TDs, 1 INT. Any more skeptics?2013-2-4 03:58:16
After a three-and-out for the Niners to start the game, Flacco immediately went 51 yards in just over two minutes to take the 7-0 lead on a 13-yard Anquan Boldin touchdown grab.
Colin Kaepernick led a methodical drive on the next possession, but an errant throw made San Francisco settle for a field goal (via CBS Sports' Clark Judge):
Clark Judge @ClarkJudgeCBS
Missed opportunity for Kaepernick and 49ers. He had two open receivers on second down. Moss open, too. Missed the throw. Took the FG.2013-2-3 23:55:15
Then it was time for the Flacco and Jacoby Jones Show to begin.
After Flacco led a 75-yard touchdown drive that followed a killer LaMichael James fumble, the red-hot QB found a wide-open Jones for a 56-yard score to make it 21-3.
With his third touchdown throw of the night, the often-criticized quarterback joined very elite company (via ABC Baltimore's Mike Masco):
Mike Masco @MikeMasco
Joe Flacco just tied Joe Montana & Kurt Warner for most TD passes in single postseason (11).. #ravens #abc22013-2-4 00:52:51
Jones started the second half with a dazzling 108-yard kickoff return right up the middle to put the Ravens up by a commanding score of 28-6, and things looked bleak for San Francisco.
But then this happened:
The 30-minute power outage completely reversed the momentum.
Kaepernick connected with Michael Crabtree for a 31-yard touchdown to conclude a quick 80-yard drive, and after a Baltimore three-and-out and a big Ted Ginn Jr. punt return, Frank Gore punched in a short touchdown to make it 28-20.
Following field goals by each side, Kaepernick put himself in the record books with a 15-yard touchdown run (via the NFL Network's Andrew Siciliano):
Andrew Siciliano @AndrewSiciliano
Longest TD run by a QB in Super Bowl history2013-2-4 03:05:16
The Niners weren't able to convert the two-point conversion, however, and Baltimore took over with a 31-29 lead.
Flacco led the Ravens down the field on the subsequent drive, but stalled, and Justin Tucker hit a field goal to put Baltimore up by five with just under five minutes remaining.
It appeared as though Kaepernick, who finished with 302 yards, one touchdown and an interception, was going to put himself in Super Bowl lore. He quickly led his team down to the 5-yard line, but the Ravens made the biggest goal-line stand of the season to regain control of the ball, although the fourth-down call will continue to be debated
Many believe that Jimmy Smith held Michael Crabtree, which would have given the Niners the first down and a great shot at winning the game, but the referees didn't agree.
Jeff Darlington of NFL.com noted that the controversial no-call was an appropriate end to the season:
Jeff Darlington @JeffDarlington
Perhaps it is appropriate, in a season that began with controversy about referees, it would ultimately end on odd pass interference no-call.2013-2-4 03:44:52
Baltimore was forced to punt again, but Sam Koch let valuable time tick away before he ran out of his own end zone for a safety. Ted Ginn wasn't able to return the subsequent kick, and Baltimore secured the victory.