Ravens at end: smart guys

Ravens at end: smart guys
February 4, 2013, 10:30 pm
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From the 49ers' standpoint, Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith was holding and/or interfering with Michael Crabtree on San Francisco's fourth-down pass play into the end zone with 1:50 left in Sunday's Super Bowl.

From the Ravens' standpoint, both Smith and Crabtree were clawing at each other and it was a good no-call.

But lost in the debate is just how smart a play it was by a young player. In just his second year, Smith calculated that he had the leeway to be physical with Crabtree at the Super Bowl-deciding moment.

Had that play happened in the first half, maybe Smith would have been called for a penalty. But unless it is something absolutely blatant — and here 49ers fans would argue that it was — an official is not going to want to throw a flag to determine the outcome of a Super Bowl. (Yes, the 49ers still would have had to punch it in, but the ball would have been placed on the Ravens' 1.)

Former defensive back Eric Davis offered this view on the NFL Network, crediting Smith for his thinking. So not only did Smith have to figure out he could take such an approach, but he also had to be careful not to cross the line. He was helped by the fact that Crabtree fought back, making the play not at all clear-cut and making it easier for officials to leave their flags in their pockets.

Shortly thereafter, the Ravens played it smart again. In punt formation at their 8 with 12 seconds left and up by five, the Ravens had decided to have punter Sam Koch take a safety, but first to run around the end zone a little to use up more clock. The play ended up using a long eight seconds, extended because no 49er was getting near Koch. And that partly was because Ravens blockers were holding all over the place.

After all, the Ravens had nothing to lose. If they got called for holding in the end zone for the automatic safety, so what? It was their plan to give up two points anyway. The important thing was to run as much time as possible off the clock.

All in all, it was an intelligent finish for the Ravens.

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