Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Family showdown at XLVII Superbowl, Ravens win game


After attending the thrilling overtime victory over the Denver Broncos and avenging last season’s loss to the Patriots, only a natural disaster could have kept me from trekking down to New Orleans to watch the Baltimore Ravens take on the San Francisco 49ers in the XLVII (47th) Super Bowl. Multiple storylines attributed to the massive build up for the matchup.

It was the first time in NFL history that two brothers were coaching against one another in the championship. Ray Lewis had announced his retirement at the start of the playoffs and found a way to return to the Super Bowl after 11 years.

The city of New Orleans was buzzing with excitement. Hotels were above capacity trying to house the fan bases of Baltimore and San Francisco and the annual Mardi Gras crowd that arrives at the beginning of the week to prepare for the an onset of nonstop festivities on “Thirsty Tuesday”.

A nursing home was able to accommodate the die-hard Ravens fans in my family. Any sort of mattress would suffice considering I was numb with excitement. The stadium was split 50-50 with 49er and Raven fans, but meandering the city, one would believe that the Ravens would have had an advantage, though that could have been attributed to the much more noticeable team color.

The Ravens fans had organized a group walk to the stadium at 2:52, a tribute to the heart and soul of the Ravens squad, Ray Lewis. Winding through the streets of NOLA in a sea of purple, chants of “Seven Nation Army” began: it was finally here. Every season each team, and their fans, has one ultimate goal: to win the Super Bowl. The Ravens had won their only other appearance in the Super Bowl and the 49ers were 5-0, so one team’s perfect record was going to be broken.

The event began with an emotional and overwhelming performance of “America the Beautiful” from Jennifer Hudson and students from Sandy Hook Elementary School. Alicia Keys followed with a beautiful performance of the “Star Spangled Banner” on the piano.

The Ravens were able to strike first after stifling the 49ers overpowering Pistol offense and their playmaking quarterback, Colin Kaepernick. The Ravens quarterback, Joe Flacco, found Anquan Boldin in the end zone for a 13 yard strike five minutes into the game. The 49ers responded with a 12 play 62 yard drive but were denied the end zone on a 3rd-and-8 sack by Paul Kruger to force them to kick a field goal. After punting the ball back on their previous drive, Courtney Upshaw was able to strip the ball from LaMichael James’ hands and Arthur Jones jumped on it to provide a huge turnover.

The Ravens were then able to convert on the turnover as Flacco found tight end Dennis Pitta open in the back of the end zone to take a 14-3 lead with 7:06 left to play in the first half. On the first play of the 49ers ensuing drive, ballhawking safety Ed Reed intercepted a deep ball from Kaepernick. Reed’s interception gave him nine  for his career in the postseason, tying him for the most in the NFL. The Ravens were unable to turn that turnover into points after an attempted fake field goal was stopped one yard short of a first down.

The Ravens got the ball back with 2:07 in the first half. After two incompletions down the field, Flacco found wide receiver Jacoby Jones deep down the field for a 56-yard touchdown pass. After making the diving catch, Jones was able to get up and elude two defenders and find the end zone giving the ravens a commanding lead, 21-3. The 49ers were able to put three more points on the board before heading into halftime.

On the first play of the second half, Jacoby Jones found the end zone again. This time, he did it by returning a kick for 108 yards, marking the longest kick return in Super Bowl history. The Ravens were now in the controlling position until a 34-minute electrical blackout reversed a shift in momentum for the teams.

The 49ers found the end zone for the first time five minutes into the second half. Kaepernick found wide receiver Michael Crabtree deep down the field for an aerial strike of 31 yards, making it 28-13. After a miskicked punt and an impressive return, the 49ers started their drive on the Ravens 20-yard line. Running back Frank Gore found the end zone on a six-yard run to the right, closing the gap to 28-20.

The miscues for the Ravens continued as running back Ray Rice fumbled the ball on the second play of their next drive inside the Ravens’ red zone. The 49ers were denied the end zone again as David Akers converted on a 39-yard field goal. With the Ravens up five points they were able to muster an impressive drive but were denied the end zone two straight times on the one-yard line and were forced to kick a 19 yard field goal.

Down 8 points, the 49ers found the end zone with 9:57 left in the game but need to convert on the 2-point conversion to tie the game. But the pass from Kaepernick sailed over wide receiver Randy Moss’s head. Justin Tucker then kicked a 38-yard field goal to put the Ravens up by five points, 34-29, with five minutes left. At the two-minute warning, the 49ers were staring down the end zone at the Ravens 5-yard line. But the Ravens defense came up huge and stifled the ‘9ers attack to turnover the ball on downs.

The Ravens were crowned world champions and Joe Flacco was named Super Bowl MVP. Ray Lewis was able to retire at the top and the older Harbaugh brother won. Meanwhile, the Ravens fans took to Bourbon St. to celebrate.

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