Flacco Strikes First
In their first drive of the game, the Ravens marched down the field behind the arm of quarterback and (spoiler alert) eventual Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco. He ultimately found wide receiver Anquan Boldin in the back of the end zone for a 13-yard score, putting Baltimore up by a touchdown with 10:36 left in the first quarter. John takes the Harbowl lead.
Fumble Stops 49er Momentum
Down 7–3, the San Francisco offense was picking up steam, with star tight end Vernon Davis catching back-to-back passes for 40 yards. But the drive came to an abrupt halt on the Ravens’ 24-yard line. Backup running back LaMichael James was fighting for extra yardage when Baltimore stripped the ball out of his hands and pounced on it.
Fly, Ravens, Fly
Baltimore capitalized on the James fumble, carving up the vaunted 49er defense with a mixture of run and pass. Flacco completed nine of his first 12 attempts, and with 7:10 left in the first half, he connected with tight end Dennis Pitta for a touchdown that gave the Ravens a 14–3 advantage.
Interception Leads to Brawl
It wouldn’t be a great Super Bowl without a little scuffle. San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick, making just his 10th career start, seemed to have some early jitters, as he repeatedly tried to force the ball into tight coverage. A pass attempt to Randy Moss sailed high and was intercepted by star safety Ed Reed, who tied the NFL’s postseason record with nine picks. During the ensuing runback, tempers flared, and things got a little chippy.
Failed Field-Goal Fake
This trickeration wasn’t quite the “Annexation of Puerto Rico.” On the San Francisco 14-yard line, Baltimore hoped to catch the 49ers napping with a fake field goal. But kicker Justin Tucker couldn’t find enough room around the left edge, as Darcel McBath chased him down before he could reach the first down.
Flacco Deep to Jones
There’s that commanding lead, 21–3. Wide receiver Jacoby Jones has had a flair for the spectacular during these playoffs, and this was no exception, as he hauled in a 56-yard score with less than two minutes to go in the first half. Sure, it was completely broken coverage by cornerback Chris Culliver, who made headlines earlier this week for anti-gay remarks. But maybe that's some form of karma.
49er Glimmer of Hope
Getting the ball back with 1:45 on the clock, the 49ers flew down the field, trying to capture some sort of momentum. They reached the nine-yard line, looking like they might score a touchdown to make it a game. But the Ravens defense didn’t break, and San Francisco settled for a field goal. Long story short, it was a Baltimore blowout at halftime.
Destiny’s Child Returns
Don’t call it a comeback. OK, call it a comeback. It was a thoroughly entertaining, electrifying night, and the halftime show didn’t disappoint. Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams joined Beyonce on stage for a fiery (literally) performance, with no immediate reports of lip-syncing.
Longest Kick Return in NFL History
There goes Jacoby Jones again, looking more like that dude from the Skechers ad. In what felt like a possible death blow to the 49ers, Jones returned the second-half kickoff 108 yards, tying longest runback in NFL history. (Announcer Jim Nantz initially called it 109 yards, but the number was later revised.) The sprint took the unexpected hero just 11 seconds, as the San Francisco coverage team parted like the Red Sea. That made it 28–6, Baltimore.
Superdome Blacks Out
Just when the Niners needed a jolt of energy, the stadium suffered a power outage that would cause a 34-minute delay. Rumors swirled as to the reason the lights went out. Some blamed Beyoncé’s turbocharged performance. Others claimed that sideline reporters Steve Tasker and Solomon Wilcots were behind it, looking for more airtime. But apparently there was just an “‘abnormality’ in the system.”
49ers Finally Find the End Zone
The blackout ended up revitalizing San Francisco. Kaepernick capped a three-minute, 80-yard drive with a touchdown pass to Michael Crabtree, who broke two tackles before scampering in. With the 49ers now down 28–13, that play ignited an explosive quarter for the team, which would go on to put up 17 points in just over four minutes.
Punt Return Brings 49ers Closer
How did San Francisco score so much in such little time, you ask? A big special-teams play always helps. After a sack dropped Flacco, who didn’t do much damage in the second half, inside his own 10-yard line, Ted Ginn Jr. returned the ensuing punt deep into Baltimore territory. Two plays later, running back Frank Gore scooted around the right end for 6 of his 110 yards and his one touchdown, making it a one-score difference, 28–20.
Ravens Almost Surrender the Lead
After trading field goals, San Francisco was down by 8 points with just under 13 minutes left. Kaepernick, who threw for 302 yards, led another impressive drive, but he finished this one off with his feet. The 15-yard run was the longest rushing touchdown by a quarterback in Super Bowl history. Down 31–29, 49er coach Jim Harbaugh decided to go for two in a bid to tie up the game, but Kaepernick’s hurried pass wasn’t close.
Incomplete on Fourth and Goal
Was there an illegal hold on defensive back Jimmy Smith? Should there have been a flag? Perhaps, but the referees decided to let them play. A Baltimore field goal with 4:19 to play put the Ravens up by five, meaning that San Francisco needed a touchdown. With under two minutes left, Kaepernick’s fourth down pass to Crabtree fell incomplete, virtually sealing the 49ers’ fate.
Baltimore Ravens: Super Bowl Champions
Almost five full hours. And 65 total points. Innumerable panic attacks for angst-ridden fans. And one extended conniption for Jim Harbaugh. But the Ravens didn’t let their 22-point lead slip completely away and won their second-ever Super Bowl. For linebacker Ray Lewis, a fitting end to a storied career. For the often-criticized Flacco, who threw for 287 yards and 3 touchdowns, vindication. For John Harbaugh, another win against little bro. Oh, how sweet does confetti taste?