Exactly one week ago, the Baltimore Ravens defeated the San Francisco 49ers 34-31 in Super Bowl XLVII. Since it has been one week, it is time to look at some important things that occurred. The play of Joe Flacco has already been looked at here.
The Baltimore Ravens coaching staff did a good job preparing for this game. The team came out strong and was able to execute what we can assume was the gameplan. Two key moments for the coaching staff stick out from this game.
First, was the power outage during the game. For 34 minutes, the lights on half of the stadium went out. This allowed the 49ers to recuperate and come out attacking. Before the power outage, the Ravens led 28-6. After the power outage, the 49ers outscored the Ravens 25-6. The coaching staff obviously didn't do enough to keep the players ready to play. The 49ers were able to get their players ready to play. Maybe the players were thinking that this game was already decided due to the big lead, I don't. But what I do now is that the team wasn't the same after this stoppage of play.
In my opinion, the best decision by the coaching staff was to take a safety with about ten seconds left in the game. The Ravens were up by five points and had the ball on their own 8-yard line on a 4th and 7. Instead of just punting the ball away, P Sam Koch took the ball and ran around in the endzone. He was able to run off eight seconds before the 49ers figured out what was going on and pushed Koch out-of-bounds. This made the Ravens have to do a free kick and the coverage unit was able to stop the return as time expired.
So, instead of allowing a possible blocked punt or a punt return for a touchdown on a short field, the Ravens played it safe. It is easier to defend a return when the returner is fielding the ball from farther away from the endzone. More importantly, it ran off eight seconds which guaranteed that the return would be the last play of the game. If the 49ers had any return, they would have been able to throw a hail mary pass or, if they got a good return, would have been able to run a regular play. By taking the safety, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh played the odds perfectly and set up the Ravens victory.
One the first play of the game, Pollard re-broke six ribs. According to the Ravens website, Pollard broke initially broke these six ribs one multiple occasions in the season. The first three were broken when OLB Courtney Upshaw hit him during the week 2 game against Philadelphia. Two more broke when CB Chykie Brown hit him in practice in November. Lastly, Pollard broke the sixth when S Ed Reed hit him on the first play of the game in week 14 against Washington.
Pollard was able to play through the pain but he wasn't his normal self. He looked weaker in pass coverage all game long. Obviously, the injury isn't serious and he will be ready for next season with plenty of time to spare.
Just like Pollard, Ngata got injured in the game. However, Ngata's injury was more serious and, had a bigger impact on the game. Ngata left the game with a knee injury and never returned. It has been confirmed that Ngata only sprained his knee, so there will be no effect on his play next season.
In game, this effected the Ravens big time. As soon as he went out with the injury, the 49ers were able to run the ball more effectively. This is one of the reasons why the 49ers had much more success in the second half on offense then they did in the first. If Ngata, hadn't got injured the 49ers wouldn't have been able to run as well since Ngata is one of the top run stuffers in the NFL, let alone the Ravens best.
Underrated Play Of The Game
Certain plays like the touchdowns and the defensive stop at the end of the game get all the publicity but, there are still great plays that go unmentioned. In this game, the underrated play of the game was a 3rd and 1 pass by the Ravens.
More specifically, it was a 3rd and 1 pass to WR Anquan Boldin with under nine minutes left. Originally, the Ravens called for a run play but, Flacco audibled once he saw how the 49ers lined up on defense. He called for a back shoulder fade to Boldin, who was in one-on-one coverage. On the route, Boldin was covered very well and it was a tough throw to make. However, Flacco placed the ball perfectly and Boldin was able to hold on for the catch.
This play put the ball on the 49ers 40-yard line and one play later, the Ravens were in field goal range. This field goal, by K Justin Tucker, put the Ravens up by five points with under five minutes left in the game. If this pass is dropped or falls incomplete, the 49ers would only have been down two points, which means instead of having to score a touchdown at the end of the game, they would have only needed a field goal.
Underrated Player Of The Game
This goes to LG Kelechi Osemele. I said, if the Ravens stop 49ers DE Justin Smith, they will win the trenches on offense. Osemele did just that for the Ravens. He was able to single team Smith which allowed more blockers to go to other pass rushers which neutralized the 49ers defensive front.
Player Of The Game
Last, is my player of the game award. I think that the voters got this right when the gave it to Flacco. He played an excellent game going 22-of-33 for 287 yards and threw 3 TDs. Without Flacco's performance they wouldn't have won this game. Coming into the game, the only real threat I saw to Flacco winning the award (if the Ravens won the game) was LB Ray Lewis. If Lewis had a big impact on the game (i.e. forcing a big turnover), the voters might have given him the award because this was his last game in the NFL.
Runner Up: WR/KR Jacoby Jones