Super Bowl 2013: Ranking Ravens' Goal-Line Stand Among Best Stops in NFL History
The Baltimore Ravens avoided a Super Bowl record-setting meltdown by winning the 2013 game with some history of their own.
How does the greatest defensive stop in NFL history sound to you?
After allowing the San Francisco 49ers to bounce back from a 28-6 deficit, the Ravens' defense held strong and shut down their opponents on four consecutive plays.
Their stand is certainly impressive, and worthy of its place in the annals of NFL history. But there have been other plays that have propelled their teams to Super Bowl glory.
We'll take a look at the Ravens' stand and where some of those other great moments are ranked in the following slides.
1. Super Bowl XLVII: Baltimore Ravens
Baltimore almost fell victim to the biggest collapse in Super Bowl history. The Ravens were one play away from blowing a 22-point second-half lead when their defense stepped up and did the unthinkable: a goal-line stand to win a Super Bowl. It’s hard to top that, and is simply amazing.
After getting all of the breaks in the second half, the San Francisco 49ers needed just one more play to get into the end zone to take a late lead.
Baltimore’s epic stop began with San Francisco beginning the series with the ball 1st-and-goal on the Ravens’ 7-yard line. A short gain moved them closer, to the 5-yard line. That’s where they stopped, too. For some reason San Francisco threw three consecutive passes and the Ravens blitzed each and every play, forcing the young Colin Kaepernick to beat them with his arm.
He couldn’t handle the pressure and didn’t get it done.
While it is remarkable to the rest of us and will be remembered for generations, it seemed pretty simple for Ravens safety Bernard Pollard.
“Just beat your man, just beat your man,” Pollard said, according to BaltimoreRavens.com columnist John Eisenberg. “And we did that. On those last three plays, we flat-out beat up the men across from us.”
Simply put, but effectively delivered from the hard-hitting safety.
2. Super Bowl XVI: San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco’s goal-line stand in Super Bowl 16 was and continues to be the biggest defensive stop in NFL history. Like the Ravens, San Francisco had also dominated the first half of their Super Bowl against the Cincinnati Bengals. Their 20-0 halftime lead was evidence of that.
But, like the present-day 49ers, the Bengals also roared back in the second half. After the Bengals scored a touchdown they stymied the Niners and were in position to go in again when San Francisco made its statement.
On third down, 49ers linebacker Dan Bunz made two consecutive stops in order to complete the stand, forcing a turnover and getting the ball back for his team. The critical play deemed “The Stop” was a 3rd-and-goal play-action pass that Bunz read and ate up and stopped just inches short of the goal line.
San Francisco won the game, 26-21, thanks to that game-changing moment. It also led to the first championship for the 49ers and helped spur a team dynasty in the 1980s.
3. Super Bowl XLIII: Pittsburgh Steelers
James Harrison is a controversial linebacker known most for being a tenacious defender that hits hard and punishes opponents. But the play that he will forever be remembered for doesn’t involve a helmet-to-helmet collision or a fine from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
Harrison and the Pittsburgh Steelers were on the ropes in Super Bowl XLIII. Kurt Warner had his Arizona Cardinals in position to take a 14-10 lead heading into halftime when Harrison made his statement.
Warner threw to what he thought would be a wide-open Anquan Boldin after a pick-play by teammate Larry Fitzgerald freed him up from his coverage. What he failed to anticipate was Harrison dropping into coverage after running back Tim Hightower—his assignment on the play—stayed in for pass protection.
Harrison pounced on the pass and surprisingly picked it off. But the interception happened on the goal line, and he had plenty of ground to cover before reaching the opposite side of the field. Three Arizona Cardinals players got hands on Harrison but none could bring the big man down as he rumbled his way to the longest scoring play in NFL history at the time.
Pittsburgh won the game 27-23, and it took a miraculous late-game six-yard TD pass by Ben Roethlisberger to Santonio Holmes to win it.
Without Harrison’s huge play, that wouldn’t have even mattered.
4. Super Bowl XXXIV: St. Louis Rams
While the St. Louis Rams have only won one Super Bowl, they did it in dramatic fashion. Any play that is given a moniker is sure to go down in the history books.
"The Stop" will not be forgotten.
After taking the lead late in the game, the Rams were in danger of a Tennessee Titans comeback. Quarterback Steve McNair led the Titans down the field and almost got into the end zone to tie things up.
Rams linebacker Mike Jones had other plans. After giving a cushion with his initial coverage, Jones recovered and chased down Titans receiver Kevin Dyson wrapped him up and dropped him just one yard shy of the goal line. Dyson, in a prayer, outstretched his long arm and reached for the plane but came up just short.
Time expired and the Rams won their franchise’s only Super Bowl as a result.