Given that the two teams playing were chock full of players you love to hate (think Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs and a host of others on the Baltimore defense) and arrogant coaches (Jim Harbaugh quickly comes to mind), the only satisfying outcome could have been a game with no winner.
And how could that be, you ask? How about the "Asterisk Bowl", the Super Bowl that had to be stopped completely because the lights went out—kind of like an old Chicago Cubs game in the fall that went extra innings.
Game called on account of darkness.
And no, I wasn’t the culprit who caused the blackout. But wouldn’t it have been a treat if they had a real honest-to-goodness New Orleans blackout and had to call the game with 13:22 left on the clock in the third quarter.
John, the elder Harbaugh, would have claimed that his Baltimore Ravens had been the true winner, and should be listed in the records without an asterisk. And Jim, the younger Harbaugh, would have claimed that his San Francisco 49ers might have staged a miraculous comeback after the lights went back on.
Of course, we would never have believed him. Not even if he told us that it would have been possible for his team to score the next 17 points and turn the game into a two point thriller with approximately 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter.
As for the game itself, or should we say, the two different games that were played before and after the blackout, there were some strange and questionable calls on the part of the Harbaugh brothers.
It’s the second quarter and you’ve got the other team on the ropes, a reliable place kicker, and a chance to put the opposition two touchdowns in the hole with a very makeable field goal. So John calls for a fake kick.
Yes, I know, if successful that would put the dagger in the 49ers. But this wasn’t on a 4th-and-1. This was asking for your kicker to make up a big chunk of yardage. Strange call, even if it didn’t come back to bite the Ravens.
One decision I liked by John from the very beginning was to have Baltimore's kickoff guys take it out every time, even if the kick was deep into the end zone.
It’s a strategy that says, “We’re going to be aggressive.” If you get stuffed a couple of times well inside the 20, you back off, but if not, you continue to attack. The Ravens started with decent field position after all of their first half returns. Jacoby Jones’ return of 108 yards was a product of that aggressive strategy.
Then why, once San Francisco started coming on post-blackout, would you back off and take a knee, if not to say, “Okay, now you’re the aggressor and we’ll cut it back.”
Finally, I’ll have to admit that Colin Kaepernick is a pretty good quarterback.But if he had been injured, I am certain that Alex Smith would have loved to come in and show his doubting coach that he could win the game for the 49ers. But Kaepernick can make things happen, even if a couple of his decisions about who to throw to were questionable.
So you’ve got two guys, Kaepernick and Frank Gore, who can really run. And you've got the Ravens, big but slow afoot and without Haloti Ngata, who showed no signs of being able to stop the run.
So why, with enough time on the clock, the goal line near and a Super Bowl victory in sight, did Jim decide to go almost exclusively to the air?
Heaven knows, but it certainly made for lots of good complaining after the loss. It seems Jim is not quite the gracious loser, as judged by his post-game crying that the refs stole the game with a lack of calls against the Ravens’ defensive backs.
So the Ravens won, while I sat on the couch watching. Most likely, the couch was where Tom, and Wes, and Vince, and Jerod, and Zoltan, and Aaron, and Logan and Aqib watched the game as well.
Although my guess is that they all have large comfortable couches, I am certain that next year each would prefer to be watching Super Bowl XLVIII from midfield, even if next year’s site is beautiful downtown Rutherford, New Jersey.
So, throwing caution to the wind, I am predicting a Patriots lights-out victory, even if the electricity is working in Northern New Jersey.
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