First Thought: No Weapon
The Baltimore Ravens–who had their defense wiped out by injury at season’s start; who needed a 4th & 29 miracle to save said season; who lost four of their last five games after firing their offensive coordinator–JUST WON SUPER BOWL XLVII!! Can you believe it? DO I??? The Lombardi is coming to Lombard Street! This past month has given me the greatest collection of sports memories ever. Be proud, Baltimore, my glorious hometown. Be proud. And be happy. (And be safe, because I heard there were, like, gunshots already in some places! COME ON.) But you deserve to celebrate. We all do. Bask!
Twelve years has led to this moment. Going through Elvis Grbac and Anthony Wright and Kyle Boller has led to this moment. Losing Ed Hartwell and Bart Scott and Adalius Thomas and countless others has led to this moment. Matt Stover retiring, Brian Billick being fired. It has been turbulent, but the last five have all been building to the big silver trophy and diamond-encrusted rings that people like Ed Reed, Terrell Suggs and Haloti Ngata finally have now, which no one can take away. The team that everyone counted out, over and over–all season, all playoffs–is now, historically, two-for-two in The Big Game. Nothing is impossible. No weapon.
Second Thought: Math Loses!
Stat magician Nate Silver became a household name after the 2012 presidential election, and a few days before the Super Bowl he predicted that the Niners would beat the Ravens because defensively successful teams have won more Super Bowls than offensively successful teams (and the Niners had the second-ranked defense in the NFL this year). Nate Silver was outdone by Princess, a camel from a New Jersey zoo that correctly predicted the Ravens would win when she ate the Baltimore graham cracker before the San Francisco graham cracker. What does this teach us? Mainly, that math is a trick of the devil.
Third Thought: Flacco
What is the world going to be like now that Joe Flacco has won a Super Bowl? And was voted its MVP, no less? Is Skip Bayless going to commit seppuku? (It’s really the only honorable thing left for him.) Is LaMarr Woodley, who famously bragged that Joe Flacco would never win a Super Bowl “in this lifetime,” going to have his face melt off like this? Is every Pats fan, Broncos fan, Steelers fan, and Browns fan (Cleveland will always hate us for “taking” their team) going to magically disappear for the next few months as they wallow in a salty pool of hypocrisy, crow-eating and despair? (WE CAN HOPE.)
I remember the Jets game in Baltimore a few years ago, when Flacco looked barely more serviceable than Mark Sanchez. And the Seahawks and Jaguars games that we lost, and even the Chiefs game from earlier this year, in which it seemed fair to question whether Flacco could be anything more than an above-average game manager who makes nice deep throws. But there is no denying the impact Flacco has had this postseason. A comparison to Eli Manning is in order. The bigger the game, the bigger he shows up. In these playoffs Flacco threw 11 TDs to no interceptions, a rate that ties him with Joe Montana for best all-time. He’s also won 63 games in his first five years in the NFL, which ties him with … no one, because he set the record. Flacco will get his money.
Fourth Thought: Gloating
In the event of a Ravens loss today, I was mentally preparing a post about the five stages of grief and how Ravens fans could cope. I had planned to say in the Bargaining Stage that, perhaps, if Ravens fans had conceded “some things” about Ray Lewis–and, honestly, take your pick: PEDs? the god/preacher thing? the Atlanta incident?–instead of strutting about proudly in our #52 jerseys, then Baby Jesus would have taken pity. Fortunately, however, THIS BLOG POST IS NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN!
B-B-But, I thought San Fran was unstoppable? I thought Colin Kaepernick was a long-limbed, jail-tatted GAWD whose beastliness could not be contained by mere mortals like the “old and slow” Ravens defense? I thought the Ravens were not only going to lose but might even get their doors blown off??? I’m legitimately confused. Why were the Ravens even playing in this game? On paper didn’t we lose three games ago? IT’S A CONSPIRACY BY ROGER GOODELL TO SEND RAY LEWIS OFF WITH A RING!!! The fact that Baltimore is a small-market team and almost no one outside of it likes Ray Lewis, which means that theory MAKES NO SENSE, be damned! … GRASSY KNOLL!! SECRET PLOT!! RABBLE!!!
Fifth Thought: That Power Outage Was …
Unacceptable. It just about saved the Niners. The Ravens were riding a tidal wave of momentum and were ready to shut the door. Kaepernick looked overwhelmed. It was 28-6. But that 32-minute delay was an extra halftime. It let the Niners recover emotionally. It let them forget about the Jacoby Jones 108-yard runback that had “just” happened and treat the second half like a new game, which almost worked. San Fran fans are doing a lot of whining about the no-call on Baltimore against Michael Crabtree on their last fourth down, which I’ll get to in a moment, but they need to remember the amateurish, epic-fail power outage that bailed them out to start with. The Niners had the look of a team that was about to get steamrolled. Instead, Flacco ended up not throwing an in-game pass for about an hour.
Sixth Thought: Rumor
I heard something called a “Beyoncé” showed up during the game and that I was supposed to care. Could anyone confirm or deny this for me? I’d appreciate it.
Seventh Thought: A Heartfelt Letter (a.k.a., More Gloating)
To Whom It May Concern:
Ravens Fans Everywhere
Eighth Thought: That Non-Call On SF’s Fourth Down Was Correctly Non-Called
On San Fran’s last offensive play of the game, Kaepernick lofted a pass to Crabtree that Crabtree couldn’t catch because he was being jostled by Ravens corner Jimmy Smith. San Fran fans are weeping and gnashing teeth over the fact that no yellow hankie came out on that play. Here is what you tell them (and “them,” in this case, includes haters of various other fan bases, too, because THEY ARE REAL) when this issue arises:
- 1: The handsiness that occurred between Smith and Crabtree occurred within the first five yards of the line of scrimmage, which is legal. If it extended beyond that it was for a yard or so, which in real time and at game speed is a call that referees do not make unless they have already proven themselves ticky-tack to that point. Which …
- 2: THEY HADN’T. It was a fairly clean game with some penalties here and there on both teams, but for the most part the refs were “lettin’ ’em play.” That’s something you like to see in a Super Bowl. Football is first about talent but secondly about adjustments. You adjust to how the game is being called. Or you die. Pigskin Darwinism. Baltimore’s corners did adjust and played San Fran tight at the goal line.
- 3: Crabtree was being physical too. A corner has a right to be physical back (within reason) to not get beat.
- 4: Kaepernick’s throw, to my eyes, landed at least three feet out of bounds, and I’ve read/heard it was around five feet. It was a rushed throw and looked uncatchable. Pass interference is legal/doesn’t count on uncatchable passes. And the whole point of having that clause is …
- 5: No one wants to bail out an offense for the fact it did not execute properly. Steve Young, AN EX-NINER, said as much in his post-game analysis. Kaerpernick was being blitzed heavily on that fourth down and chucked up a (bad) prayer.
- 6: In crunch time, referees tend to not make ticky-tack calls that directly affect the outcome of a game. Call it fair, call it not, but it is what it is and various teams benefit from and get shafted by this all the time. And before the Niners and their fans throw stones from glass houses (that Chris Culliver would prefer had no gay people inside), they should remember …
- 7: THAT TIME TWO WEEKS AGO WHEN NAVORRO BOWMAN “INTERFERED” WITH RODDY WHITE ON ATLANTA’S LAST FOURTH DOWN. Which wasn’t called because it was a bang-bang play that happened within five yards at crunch time.
Ninth Thought: David Akers Was Not Run Into On His Missed Field Goal
So, Frisco fans, be quiet about the zebras. OK? Akers missed and then fell so he could get a flag, and the referees obliged when he hadn’t even been touched. Yes–the same refs that supposedly robbed the Niners of a Super Bowl win also gave them three free points. THE FIX WAS IN! GRASSY KNOLL! FIRE GOODELL!
Tenth Thought: I Eat Humble Pie
I was open last summer about my disdain for Jacoby Jones when the Ravens picked him up in free agency. I said I’d be “un-shocked” when he dropped a pass that ended our season. Au contraire, Idiot Me. Where would the Ravens be without Jacoby? He had The Catch against Denver. He had two touchdowns in the Super Bowl, one on a record-tying kickoff return and another on a traditional Flacco deep bomb, the last eight yards of which might have been the most impressive. If Flacco hadn’t won the Super Bowl MVP then Jacoby would have, and I wouldn’t have protested one bit. I tip the cap and eat the crow. Thank you, Jacoby. You have been a pivotal piece of this playoff run.
A Bonus Thought: Oh Yeah …