Ravens 34, 49ers 31
NEW ORLEANS -- Joe Flacco will get his $100 million contract, Ed Reed and Jacoby Jones made signature plays in their hometown, and Ray Lewis’ last ride ended in style.
It wasn't easy.
Sunday, the Ravens withstood a furious comeback by the San Francisco 49ers to win their second Super Bowl championship in franchise history 34-31, in the Mercedes Benz Superdome.
The 49ers trailed by 22 points in the third quarter and trimmed the deficit to 28-23 but they lost for the first time in a Super Bowl in six appearances. They got the ball to the Ravens' 5-yard line with two minutes left in the game, but the defense held as Colin Kaepernick threw three consecutive incomplete passes to Michael Crabtree.
It was a pro-Ravens crowd of 71,024, and the third game in a row in the postseason in which the Ravens entered as the underdog. But unlike their comebacks on the road against the Denver Broncos and New England Patriots, this time the Ravens played from ahead.
Flacco threw three first-halt touchdowns to spot the Ravens the lead.
Kaepernick was silent until the third quarter. He overthrew a pass that was intercepted by Reed in the second quarter, the first time a 49ers quarterback made such a mistake in the Super Bowl. Joe Montana and Steve Young had combined for 17 TDs and zero interceptions in all of the other appearances.
Then Jones struck twice. He had a 56-yard TD catch with less than two minutes left in the first half, blowing past Chris Culliver, who bit the inside move, and came wide open. Jones fell down inside the 5-yard-line, got up and ran for the end zone. It was the longest play allowed by the NFL’s third-ranked overall defense during the regular season – fourth against the pass.
The Ravens won the coin toss to start the game but deferred. Leading 21-6 at the break, Jones sliced through an arm tackle by Darcel McBath to take the opening kickoff of the second half 108 yards for a TD.
Jones, who became a Pro Bowl selection for the first time in his six-year career as a special-teams player, took over the kick return duties in Week 6 and had two for TDs in the regular season. He also had a punt return for a TD.
The wheels started to fall off the Ravens after that. After Kaepernick found Michael Crabtree for a 31-yard touchdown, the Ravens went three plays and out and Flacco was sacked on his own 9-yard-line. Sam Koch's sub-par punt was returned by Ted Ginn to the Ravens' 20. Two plays later, Frank Gore was in the end zone from six yards out.
Ravens running back Ray Rice caught a pass out of the backfield but lost a fumble for the third time in the postseason when Tarell Brown stripped him. That led to a 34-yard field goal by David Akers.
Player of the game: Flacco. He got the Ravens off to a good start and finished 22-for-33 for 287 yards and 3 TDs. He finished the postseason without an interception. When he doesn't throw an interception the Ravens are 44-5, including the postseason. He also was named the game's MVP.
Turning point: On Baltimore’s 24, San Francisco RB LaMichael James was wrapped up by Ravens CB Corey Graham as LB Courtney Upshaw planted him with a hit to jar the ball loose and DE Arthur Jones recovered. Flacco responded with a 10-play, 75-yard drive that resulted in a one yard TD catch by TE Dennis Pitta to push the lead to 14-3.
Record ties: Flacco had 11 TD passes to tie him with Joe Montana and Kurt Warner all-time in a single postseason run. Reed’s pick of Kaepernick in the second quarter gave him nine postseason interceptions for his career, tying an all-time high with several players that include 49ers Hall of Fame DB Ronnie Lott.
Too late: Neither Kaepernick nor Gore could get anything going on the ground in the first half as they fell behind. The 49ers came into this game with 72 rushes for 472 yards, averaging 6.5 yards per carry and scoring seven TDs. In the first half, the Ravens kept them to 53 rushes on 15 runs. The 49ers came on late to finish with 29 carries for 182 yards on the ground (6.3 average).
Red-zone supremacy: The Ravens scored the first two times inside the 20-yard line, increasing their streak to 10 consecutive drives into the red zone. That streak ended, however, when Flacco threw incomplete to Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith.
Not-so great: 49ers WR Randy Moss, who proclaimed leading up to the game that he was the best ever, finished with two catches for 41 yards.