Baltimore Ravens, 34 - San Francisco 49ers, 31
-- Baltimore played a very good game, especially offensively. They executed plays and did not make many noticeable mistakes. The moment never seemed too big for them. That said, San Francisco left it on the table. From the first drive (an illegal formation penalty negating a 25 yard gain) to the last drive (burning a timeout to save 5 yards on a delay of game call), they just didn't have it all together.
-- I've said before that I think Jim Harbaugh is the best coach in the league, and I stand by it, but in my opinion there were two large scale coaching decisions he botched last night (or lets just say, this girl would have done them differently from her seat on the couch). First, I would of went for two after Crabtree made it 28-12. Instead, San Fran waited to go for two until there was 9 minutes left in the 4th quarter and they absolutely needed the points. Isn't it harder to get something done when the pressure is on? If they went for it and converted it's 28-14 and a two-point conversion is no longer an issue in the game. Even if they went for it and failed, they're still only down by 2 touchdowns and 2 two-point conversions. It's not even 3 scores! Which at the time looked pretty good to me. Second, the play calls on the Niners final four offensive plays were ridiculous. I know he doesn't send in the plays, but by default I blame Harbaugh. In order: Hand-off to LaMichael James for a 2 yard gain (James?! Really?! The rookie who already fumbled once? Was Gore too tired after his 33-yard run the play before? I mean, it's the last drive of the Super Bowl!!); Roll out to the right for an incompletion to Crabtree (seemingly the only receiver in the pattern); Another incompletion to Crabtree (where, by the way, Kaepernick started under center removing almost any chance of him running effectively); Lastly, once again, an incomplete pass to Crabtree (at least this one went to the end zone...kind of). If it was me, I would have ran the ball four straight times with either Kaep or Gore - with a slight chance of a quick slant pass to Vernon Davis - all the time secretly hoping that we got stopped on the first three so the clock would run down. Harbaugh got sucked into the trap that every other NFL coach does - thinking the only way to get 5 yards is to throw. His team ran their way to success all year. You messed up Jim (don't worry...you're still handsome).
-- Let's turn to why the Ravens won. Two words: Joe. Flacco. Think about the last 20 years of NFL playoffs. Is there a quarterback that's had a better stretch of postseason games? I'm serious. The guy was 73 for 126, had 1,140 yards, threw for 285 per game, and had 11 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. Yes, that was ZERO interceptions. Ok, maybe the best of the last 20 years is pushing it, but he took a team that limped into the playoffs (and I mean limped into the playoffs) and strung four very impressive wins together. Last night he was 22 of 33 for 287 yards, 3 touchdowns, and one ballsy audible on a 3rd and 1 for a huge pass play conversion. Anquan Boldin was money as usual, Jacoby Jones made two huge plays, the offensive line held up well...but Flacco is the reason why the Ravens won. Anything less then what he gave them and the 49ers win that game.
-- Beyonce is (insert adjective here). Whatever word you put in that spot, it's probably not meaningful enough. She is one bad-ass woman.
-- That noise you heard around 10:45pm Eastern was the collective scream of everyone who had 4 and 9 in their squares pool. I wonder how much money changed hands as Sam Koch, the Ravens punter, was running around the end zone and giving the 49ers an extra 2 points.
-- I'm not gonna lie...Steve Bisciotti, the Ravens owner, kind of scares me.
-- Finally...Ray Lewis. By all accounts, Ray did not have a very good Super Bowl. If the 49ers run a better play in the final minutes we may be talking about how Ray Lewis got burned multiple times by Gore's moves, Crabtree's crossing routes, and Kaep's feet, and how it's a good thing he's retiring because he's clearly over the hill. But that isn't the case. The Ravens came out on top and Ray Lewis is riding into the sunset a 2-time Super Bowl Champion with one of the best "win one for him" stories attached to his name. Say what you want about his non-football life - I surely did on twitter last night ("Ray Lewis killed the lights!!" was my personal favorite) - but there's no arguing his status as an all-time great. He's one of the best players of his generation.