The Niners got the opening kick and did nothing with it, punting after a 3-and-out aided by an illegal formation penalty. The Ravens had great field position and marched into the red zone but Joe Flacco threw an incomplete pass on 3rd and 9. Another penalty on the Niners – this time for being offsides – gave them another chance on third and 4. Flacco hit Anquan Boldin over the middle in the end zone on the following play.
Ravens 7, Niners 0
San Francisco answered the score with one of their own. They took the kickoff and drove inside the Ravens’ 20, but Colin Kaepernick missed an open Michael Crabtree a yard deep in the endzone on 2nd down and took a sack on a furious pass rush on third down so they settled for a 39-yard field goal by embattled kicker David Akers.
Ravens 7, Niners 3.
The Ravens got the kickoff and converted a 3rd and 9 against a massive blitz by rolling and running right then throwing a dart down the sideline to WR Anquan Boldin for a first down, but couldn’t stop the next blitz on third down. Flacco was sacked out of FG range, forcing them to punt on a short field.
The Niners began their drive on their own 20 and moved the ball well as Kaepernick completed a couple of passes to TE Vernon Davis and Gore gashed them up the middle. Rookie LaMichael James had one of the most exciting runs for no gain that I’ve seen in some time as he ran wide, gave up 7 yards, forced a missed tackle, and gained the 7 back to the line of scrimmage before he fumbled the ball over to the Ravens at the Ravens’ 25 yard line.
The Ravens drove the distance for their second touchdown of the game, culminating on a 2-yard play-action pass to TE Dennis Pitta. Flacco made the Niners pay for their miscue.
Ravens 14, Niners 3.
On the Niners’ responding drive, Colin Kaepernick made San Francisco 49′ers Super Bowl history: He threw an interception. It’s the franchise’s first thrown intercepion and their sixth visit. Ed Reed corralled the ball, which was his 9th postseason interception, tying an NFL record.
It was beginning to look like the Ravens’ day, but a scrum between the two teams made it ugly. I despise “offsetting” penalties – you may as well not even bother to throw the flag – but the officials had to make some sort of statement to keep the teams under control, and I get that.
Joe Flacco was on-target with his passes up to this point, but the drive stalled when Anquan Boldin dropped a short pass over the middle. I suppose even he can hear footsteps when going up against 2 Pro-Bowl inside linebackers like Willis and Bowman. In any case, they lined up for a short FG try, but it was a fake FG-run left. The Ravens’ kicker nearly made the first down, but was slammed out of bounds a yard or so shy of the line to gain. Patrick Willis forced the issue outside while a pair of teammates made the play.
I had no idea speed at the kicker position was going to be an issue, but Super Bowls almost always have a few surprises.
San Francisco took over at their own 6 yard line but another 3-and-out forced them to punt.
It didn’t matter, as the Ravens hit upon yet another 2013 playoff big play…and one of the Super Bowl’s signature plays. Jacoby Jones put a double move on Donte Whitner and was wide open over the middle of the field. Flacco saw it and heaved it, but the pass was very, very short, causing Jones to fall down in order to catch it as Whitner zoomed on by.
He wasn’t touched, got up, and had to put some moves on before racing left and outrunning Whitner to the goal line for a 56-yard TD.
It’s going to be up there with the Tyree helmet catch and I think it’s the most spectacular and odd touchdown play in Super Bowl history. If you haven’t seen the play yet, don’t worry. You will.
Ravens 21, Niners 3 at Halftime