Baltimore’s goal-line stand secures Lewis’ legacy, Flacco’s MVP
NEW ORLEANS – It had brother v brother. It had fierce hitting during and frequently after each play. It had a record kickoff return (still think the NFL is going to outlaw that play?) It even had a last-second, goal-line stand to cap it.
Indeed, Super Bowl XLVII offered something for everyone.
For the Ravens, it offered proof that Baltimore’s 34-31 victory was rooted in the game’s basic fundamentals – defense, quarterback play and special teams. It also echoed the obvious: John Harbaugh is one heck of a NFL head coach.
The Ray Lewis-led Ravens defense rose to the occasion to stifle San Francisco’s attempt at an epic comeback. That was after MVP Joe Flacco’s three first half touchdown passes opened a 21-6 lead, and Jacoby Jones’ 108-yard kick return for a touchdown made it to a seemingly insurmountable 28-6 early in the second half.
For the 49ers, it showed resiliency even in defeat, and it reminded everyone why San Francisco should open this season as the NFC’s odds-on favorite to repeat.
For the NFL, if its health is truly reflected in its marquee moment, then Super Bowl XLVII succeeded in reminding both fans and skeptics alike that football, when played at its highest level, is … well … super.
The NFL has a good thing going. While seemingly on the attack or under siege 24/7, the league still makes all the right moves on its grandest stage. Certainly, everything from the long-term effects of head trauma to escalating costs threatens the NFL’s prosperity, but for a day, at least, all seemed right with the NFL world.
OK, so the 34-minute blackout was a problem. Of course, it could’ve been worse. Considering the possibilities, I would say a bit of inconvenience, followed by a 49ers’ onslaught that made it quite interesting, was worth the drama.
For the Packers, Super Bowl XLVII has to be at once a comfort and a wakeup call.
It is a comfort knowing Green Bay isn’t that far behind the game’s top dogs.
Aaron Rodgers is one of the league’s top five quarterbacks. As long as the Packers have Rodgers, they have a chance to do magical things. What they don’t have – and here’s the wakeup call – is an offensive line that is either able to or allowed to dominate. Flacco threw 33 pass attempts. He was sacked just twice. Once, it occurred when he ran out-of-bounds 1 yard shy of the first-down marker.
Rodgers hasn’t enjoyed that clean a game in years.
It has got to change. Whether it means running the football more often, or protecting better when throwing it, or both, it needs to happen.
Fortunately, the Packers’ fans can take comfort in knowing Mike McCarthy is one of the few active head coaches to have won a Super Bowl. The man knows what it takes to get there, and to win it. Also, GM Ted Thompson is both capable and vigilant in the personnel department’s efforts to improve the roster.
The Packers – same as the 49ers in the NFC – are no fly-by-night outfit.
They are close and showing no signs of letting up.
For me, Super Bowl XLVII offered a rare opportunity to gloat.
As predicted, Alicia Keys’ rendition of the National Anthem was both stellar and lengthy (over 135 seconds), Beyonce’s hair was curly at the start of the halftime show, and the Harbaughs’ post-game handshake was less than 7 ½ seconds.
I also took the Ravens 28-23 (the five-point spread was dead on until the safety), and predicted that Joe Flacco would be the game’s MVP.
Next week: A visit with the Packers’ newest Pro Football Hall of Fame player, Dave Robinson.
Chris Havel is a national best-selling author and his latest book is Lombardi: An Illustrated Life. Havel can be heard Monday through Friday from 4-6 p.m. CDT on WDUZ FM 107.5 The Fan, or on AM-1400, as well as Fan Internet Radio (www.thefan1075.com). Havel also hosts Event USA’ MVP Parties the evening before home games.