Unsung Heroes of Super Bowl XLVII
As Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh stated in the trophy ceremony after holding off the San Francisco 49ers for an epic 34-31 Super Bowl victory, “It’s never pretty, it’s never perfect, but it is us.”
This was certainly the case, as the 49ers came back from a 28-6 deficit but were stopped just short of a miracle comeback.
However, here are five of the unsung heroes that also had an immense impact on the game.
1. The Blackout
Players had to kill time while the power was out for 35 minutes.
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The unforeseen 34-minute power outage, perhaps due to Beyoncé’s electrifying halftime performance quite literally taking the energy out of the building, changed the course of the game completely.
Before the blackout, this game was heading to be a blowout.
The Ravens had the tough task of holding off the 49ers after building a 21-6 lead at halftime. But on the first play after halftime, Jacoby Jones returned the kickoff for a postseason-record 108-yard touchdown. The 49ers then had a quick 3rd-and-13 before the power in half the stadium went out.
The Ravens were superbly confident and flowing on both sides of the ball, while the 49ers looked like a team that had already given up.
But momentum is a powerful, fickle being. After the blackout, the momentum drastically shifted sides.
The 49ers scored 17 unanswered points along with a 23-3 run after the power came back. This was undeniably aided by a 34-minute break that drained much of the Ravens’ momentum and adrenaline.
Although the 49ers couldn’t quite complete the comeback, the blackout had an immense effect on the result, and put the 49ers back in the game.
2. Delanie Walker
Walker was very physical on offense and special teams, though only had three catches for 48 yards.
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Despite being on the losing side, Walker was quietly one of the most integral pieces of the 49ers’ success.
He only finished with three catches for 48 yards, but two of those catches went for key first downs.
Nevertheless, Walker meant much more than the numbers could say.
Walker lined up as a receiver as well as a fullback, and proved why he is considered one of the more versatile players on the offense. He is a powerful blocker and cleared up a number of holes for the team to run through, as the 49ers totaled 182 rushing yards. Walker also made a huge block on Ed Reed at the goal line, as running back Frank Gore ran for his lone touchdown of the game.
Walker is also one of the best special teams players on the team.
He was everywhere this Super Bowl, finishing with four tackles, including one crushing hit on Jacoby Jones, the big-play receiver/returner.
Again, even though Walker did not put up big stats, he was vital to the team’s success and was a menace all over the field.
3. Bryant McKinnie
McKinnie during a preseason game against the Detroit Lions
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Before the postseason, the Ravens made a number of changes to the offensive line that proved to be profoundly beneficial.
Most notably, the Ravens moved their normal left tackle, Michael Oher, over to right tackle and placed McKinnie in the vacant left tackle spot.
As a result, the Ravens’ offense has been a force, scoring at least 24 points in each game this postseason. The offense has been balanced on the pass and run, and the Ravens are no longer a team based solely on defense. The biggest beneficiary of McKinnie’s entrance has been Flacco.
Flacco, who has normally been strong-armed but quite inconsistent, has had one of the best postseasons in NFL history.
He has thrown for 1,140 yards, 11 touchdowns and no interceptions. He capped it off by earning Super Bowl MVP with 287 yards, three touchdowns and an astonishing 95.1 QBR.
A large portion of this success is due to McKinnie now guarding Flacco’s blind side.
McKinnie had a great game, and was one of the primary reasons why the Ravens were able to march down the field with such ease.
4. Anquan Boldin
The 49ers could not match up with Boldin's size, and he finished with over 100 yards.
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Boldin had a monster game for the Ravens, and at 6’1” and 220 pounds he was the big receiver that the 49ers have struggled to defend recently.
Boldin was targeted a team-high 10 times with six receptions for 104 yards and a touchdown.
But Boldin also stood out in even more ways than those basic stats. Five of those six catches were for huge first downs, and four of those first downs came on a third-down play. In such a close game, first downs have an even larger impact on the game.
Boldin made a number of first down catches in traffic and kept many drives alive for the Ravens throughout the game.
He was a constant headache for the 49ers’ pass defense, and Flacco took advantage.
5. Sam Koch
Koch killing a huge chunk of time during his late-game safety.
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Koch had a surprisingly eventful game for a punter.
In terms of actual punting, Koch averaged a very solid 47.0 yards on his three punts on the game.
But Koch also had a great impact outside of his three punts.
The 49ers have a dangerous punt returner in former first-round pick Ted Ginn Jr. Koch did a good job of keeping the ball out of his hands, though. But after a quick three-and-out deep in their own territory late in the game, Koch was forced to rush a punt. Ginn Jr. managed a big 32-yard return, but Koch made a sideline tackle that saved a touchdown.
At the end of the game, Koch also killed a chunk of the final seconds by purposely scrambling around the end zone, greatly confusing the 49ers’ punt return unit, and taking a meaningless safety.
Although there is a strong chance that the extra seconds would not have amounted to anything for the 49ers, stranger things have happened in this league.
Koch is just one of the unsung heroes contributing to the fact that the Baltimore Ravens are now Super Bowl Champions.