The Baltimore Ravens won the Super Bowl proving yet again that regular season records mean little in predicting the playoffs. By translating a 10-6 record in to a 4-0 playoff run, the Ravens have made history by becoming the first team in history to win a Super Bowl against the San Francisco 49ers.
When NFC West football coaches, players, and fans look back on this season, the biggest lesson might be, “Make sure to show up to play in the first half of playoff games.” While both the Seahawks and 49ers looked as talented as any team in football this year, their habit of digging themselves in to a hole and relying on perfect execution late in games backfired. Instead of the NFC West holding a Lombardi Trophy, the 49ers finish the season more closely resembling the team that couldn’t beat the Rams than the team that was predicted by many to win it all.
In my last article I predicted that the Ravens would pass to set up the run. As it would turn out, the Ravens rushing attack was never a factor at all. Luckily for them, they scored their three offensive touchdowns on pass plays. They ended the game with only 93 rushing yards, and averaged a measly 2.7 yards per carry. On a normal day, that would not be enough to move the chains.
However, especially for Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco, this was not a normal day. His three first half touchdowns were enough to bury the 49ers in a deep hole. They were also enough to set a new NFL record with 11 touchdown passes in a single post season without an interception.
Flacco’s first pass was thrown to the middle of the end zone to Anquan Boldin who found a pocket between two defenders. The next touchdown was a 1-yard pass to Dennis Pitta who calmly spiked the ball. The body language of the Ravens squad exuded confidence. The third touchdown made people stop and look. It was a 56-yard completion to Jacoby Jones, who caught the ball in the air, fell down, and got up in time to elude San Francisco defenders on his way to the end zone.
With the possession of the ball to start the second half, the Ravens were in good position with a 21-6 lead at halftime. By the time Jacoby Jones returned the opening kickoff 108 yards for a touchdown, things were looking great.
It looked like a good old fashioned Super Bowl blowout, until, of all things, the power went out in the Super Dome. While the power outage delayed the game for 34 minutes, it is impossible to judge what effect it had on the two teams. Some say that the 49ers benefited by being allowed to regroup and kill Baltimore’s momentum.
It could be just as easily presumed that Baltimore benefited from the blackout, by being allowed to regain some energy that allowed them to withstand the onslaught that was soon to come. In the end, the real beneficiary of the power out was probably the bar owners across the world who kept their patrons drinking for an extra half hour. At the end of the unexpected intermission, the game really started to get competitive, and turned in to what many called an instant classic.
Colin Kaepernick, who was flustered and ineffective early, suddenly was able to connect with Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis. Both receivers topped one hundred yards, and Crabtree hauled in a touchdown. The other two 49er touchdowns were run in by Frank Gore who ran for a game best 110 yards, and Kaepernick who celebrated his touchdown run with a highly predictable kiss of his tattoo.
While the touchdown brought the 49ers to within a field goal of the Ravens, perhaps Kaepernick’s celebration was a bit premature if not entirely unnecessary. The Ravens would go on to build their lead to 5 on a Justin Tucker field goal giving the 49ers time to take the lead.
However, Baltimore’s defense held tight on a four-down goal line stand that included one controversial non-call in the end zone on a ball thrown to Michael Crabtree. While Jimmy Smith clearly had a handful of jersey, Crabtree was also engaged in contact. Being that it’s a Super Bowl, I’m a big believer in letting the players play, and saving the flags for obvious penalties, like the illegal formation that stalled a promising opening drive by San Francisco.
After turning the ball over on downs, San Francisco’s defense was able to hold the Ravens to a three and out. The Ravens, who had faked a field goal earlier in the game, pulled another unorthodox special teams move. With twelve seconds left, the punter, Sam Koch, scrambled around in the end zone for eight seconds before running out of bounds giving the 49ers a safety and two points.
The score tightened to 3 points, but with four seconds left on the clock, a field goal was not a possibility. Instead of punting from the end zone with 12 seconds left, the Ravens were able to kick off with four seconds left. There were no repeats of the music city miracle as Baltimore’s kickoff team found the ball quickly, and made the winning tackle as time expired.
It was a fitting end to an exciting season of NFL football. The Ravens have some questions surrounding an aging defense, and a free agent quarterback, but have been consistently competitive over the years. The 49ers also look like they’re built to compete for years to come.
The Seattle Seahawks, Green Bay Packers, Atlanta Falcons, New England Patriots, and Denver Broncos all exited the playoffs with unfulfilled expectations. Expect them to be in the thick of the hunt next season. But, until then, The Baltimore Ravens deserve to hold their well-earned title of NFL Champions.
Tags: Anquan Boldin, Baltimore Ravens, Colin Kaepernick, Dennis Pitta, Denver Broncos, featured, football, Frank Gore, Green Bay Packers, Jacoby Jones, Jimmy Smith, Joe Flacco, Justin Tucker, Michael Crabtree, NFC West, nfl, playoffs, Popular, power out, Sam Koch, San Francisco 49ers, Seahawks, Seattle Seahawks, St. Lois Rams, Super Bowl, super bowl mvp, Super Bowl XLVII, Super Dome, Vernon Davis
The match up for Super Bowl XLVII is incredibly difficult to call. Both teams have overcome adversity, and both teams have weaknesses. In fact, I don’t totally trust either quarterback, or defense. Baltimore shut out the New England Patriots in the second half of the AFC Championship game, but San Francisco runs a totally different offense. San Francisco plays physical, but their defense almost let the Atlanta Falcons run away with the game early on in the NFC Championship game.
As for the quarterbacks, Joe Flacco has won playoff games in each of his seasons in the league, but he has also lost playoff games in each of those seasons. Colin Kaepernick has great skills, but he was shut down by the Seattle Seahawks in a prime time match up earlier in the season.
Both teams also have questions on special teams. San Francisco’s place kicker, David Akers, has missed several field goal attempts. The Baltimore Ravens, on the other hand, have a better kicker in Justin Tucker, but have been known to blow coverages on kick offs and punts.
In the passing game, The Ravens have a slight edge with their deep threat of Flacco to Torrey Smith. Anquan Boldin, and Dennis Pitta are solid, but The 49ers have the better overall receiving corps with Michael Crabtree, Randy Moss, and Vernon Davis.
Both teams are solid in the run game. Baltimore’s Ray Rice is the top rusher in the playoffs this season with 247 yards. However, Frank Gore is number three with 230 yards in one less game. Right behind him is San Francisco quarterback Colin Kapernick has put up a jaw-dropping 202 yards rushing in his first NFL postseason. 183 of those yards came in one game against the Green Bay Packers.
Historically, both teams boast impressive records. San Fransisco is undefeated in five trips to the Super Bowl, and Baltimore has won one Super Bowl, and holds the best post season record of any team in history at .650. Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco also has the most wins away from home of any quarterback in history at six.
San Francisco’s last Super Bowl victory was in 1988. Baltimore’s was in 2000. Because the 49ers history is much older than the Ravens’, I don’t see that playing any part in predicting this game. While they still have the mystique of being the 49ers, they are only three years removed from being one of the most underachieving teams in football. At the same time, the Ravens have been in the thick of the hunt for the better part of the past fourteen seasons.
In the previous round, both teams beat pass-first teams to get to the game, so it’s hard to tell how either will react to each other’s run-first attacks. But, it might be fair to say that the game will go to which ever team manages to pull off the first big pass plays, and if it comes down to that, my money is on Joe Flacco.
Being that both teams dodged bullets to get to the super bowl. The Ravens had a miraculous comeback against the Broncos, and the 49ers mounted an impressive come back against the Falcons. That should indicate that this game will be competitive until the end, even if one team gets off to a quick start.
On the line, the edge should go to San Francisco’s defense vs. Baltimore’s offense. Running the ball will be a challenge. So, I expect Baltimore to pass early to set up the run. Don’t be surprised if they take a shot at the endzone on first or second down of their first drive if they are not trailing.
San Francisco, on the other hand, has to hope that their read option offense has enough spark to confuse a veteran Ravens defense led by Ray Lewis who may have lost a step in terms of speed, but still reads an offense as well as anybody in history. I expect the Ravens to minimize Kaepernick’s rushing attack forcing Frank Gore to provide the bulk of the ground yards. Meanwhile, Kaepernick will have to rely on his arm, the major factor that set him apart from his teammate Alex Smith. Expect Gore to have a big game, and expect Kaepernick to air it out.
In the end, I believe that the Ravens’ experience, will outmatch the youth of the 49ers. The Ravens have spent years deliberatley improving their offense. The plan was to balance out their great defense to have a shot to win a super bowl. Now that they have made it back to the dance, I expect them to show up with their laces tied tight, and ready to rumble.
Ravens: 24 49ers: 17
Tags: afc, Alex Smith, Anquan Boldin, Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, Colin Kaepernick, David Akers, Dennis Pitta, featured, football, Frank Gore, Joe Flacco, Justin Tucker, Michael Crabtree, NFC, nfl, Popular, Previews, Randy Moss, Ray Lewis, Ray Rice, San Francisco 49ers, Seahawks, Seattle Seahawks, Super Bowl XLVII, Torrey Smith, Vernon Davis
As the nation gets ready for Super Bowl 47 this Sunday, word has leaked out that Raven’s QB Joe Flacco will be seeking a contract extension this offseason that will pay him $20 million per season.
$20 million isn’t an arbitrary number. It also happens to be what Peyton Manning will earn in in 2013, when he will be the highest paid player in the NFL. Flacco and his agent clearly believe that Flacco deserves the same type of money, but is he the same quality of QB? It’s tough to make a case that he is.
The regular season numbers certainly don’t favor Flacco’s claim. Flacco’s 87.7 rating was the 12th best by NFL QBs (Manning was 2nd). His QBR was the down at 25th (Manning was #1). Pro Football Focus has Flacco season at #20. (Manning is again #1). From that point of view, the 2 QB definitely shouldn’t not be paid similar money.
The playoff numbers are a different story. Flacco’s 114.7 rating is the highest of any QB this season. His QBR is the 3rd in the league even though he’s the only QB to have played in 3 playoff games so far. PFF also has him 3rd amongst playoff QBs. Plus there’s the fact that Flacco and the Ravens beat Manning and the Broncos in Denver.
That has been the case over his entire career. While Flacco isn’t a particularly good regular season QB, he does seem to dial it up to a whole different level in the post season. The then becomes, is that enough?
Does being able to play well in the playoffs make Flacco worth the same contract money as players who play at a much higher level over the course of the regular season?
I guess we’ll see this offseason. It’s going to be an interesting story line to watch over the next couple months.
When you someone mentions the name Ray Lewis the obvious words come to mind, big, fast, scary, hard-hitter; although unlike most NFL linebackers, the best way to describe Lewis is the word Motivator. Whether Ray is on the field, in the locker room, in the community or at a local charity or college, he spreads his words.
On Sunday Ray tore his triceps muscle, which abruptly ended his season. Once the news broke that his season was over everyone instantly started asking the question “Is this the last we will see of Ray Lewis playing football on Sundays?” The answer is still very unclear and even though he is 37 years old, it would not surprise anyone either way; Ray has a drive unlike most NFL players. He has come full circle from the gutters, to the top of the world, back to the bottom and then on top of the world again.
Listening to NFL analysts talk about Lewis he is put on a tall pedestal reserved not just for Hall of Famers but for Legends.
Ray isn’t in the discussion for top 10 or 20 to ever play his position, he is in discussion for top 2 or 3, Ray Lewis is a legend. When I say that Lewis has come full circle I mean just that, Ray was arrested the night of the Super Bowl in 2000 and indicted in the murder of 2 men. Ray eventually made a plea agreement and was exonerated on the original charges and only charged with obstruction of justice. But, to an NFL linebacker the damage had been done, after serving 12 months of probation Lewis set out on the huge task of rebuilding his image to not only the Baltimore Ravens Fans but to the entire NFL.
The following year Ray won the Super Bowl behind a huge defensive performance, as he won the Super Bowl MVP. But that wasn’t enough, while keeping his NFL linebacker image intact, he has let his actions both on the field and off the field speak for itself, by staying out of trouble and becoming a true family man. Ray spends his off field time taking care of his six kids and being the Father he never had. Ray also established the “Ray Lewis 52 Foundation” whose mission is to provide personal and economic assistance to disadvantaged youth.
Now over 12 years have passed since the night that Ray almost lost everything. He has become somewhat of a role model for people and kids to look up to. He has completely re-shaped his image to the point that he is constantly being requested to come and speak to not just people in need, but groups of people that want to get more out of themselves. He doesn’t speak from a note card or a screen but from the heart; he never knows what he is going to say but it will be what he feels at the time.
Ray Lewis has established himself as not just the immoveable object flying around the field but one of the most popular players in the NFL. Listening to Ray motivate his team before every game makes even a normal fan want to jump up and down with him. He has a way of speaking that just seems to make everyone around him want to do more. Ray has not only fixed his image but he has become an icon that the NFL can be proud of and kids can look up to. Sunday may or may not have been the last time we see Ray Lewis strap up his pads and hit some; but either way it wasn’t the last time we will see Ray around the NFL in one way or another.
Last week, I advised everyone to keep the faith, and for those of you that did, you were rewarded with the best performance of the season and a tremendous win over the Baltimore Ravens. Seattle Seahawks fans have every right to … [visit site to read more]
Five minutes and fifty-two seconds. That’s how much time was remaining when the Seattle Seahawks took possession of the ball after the Baltimore Ravens had scored a touchdown to cut Seattle’s lead to 22-17. The Seahawks took possession on their own 20, but committed two penalties (illegal motion, false start) to back them up to the 10. So now it was 1st and 20 instead of 1st and 10.
The Ravens, despite playing poorly most of the game, couldn’t have asked for a better scenario. They had all of their timeouts, the Seahawks were pinned back in their end of the field, and they had to go twenty yards to get a first down. Seattle had also lost their top two wide receivers (Doug Baldwin and Sidney Rice) to injury during the game. Momentum was all on Baltimore’s side. The crowd was nervous. All the vaunted Ravens’ defense had to do was get a three and out, and Baltimore would get the ball back in decent field position with plenty of time remaining.
If this had happened during the previous few seasons, there would have been a one yard run followed by another one yard run followed by an incomplete pass and a punt. The Seahawks would have been on their heels, desperately trying to hold on to the lead. A feeling of impending doom would have permeated the stadium.
Not this time. … [visit site to read more]
Answer the poll, then click to the “more” button for my thoughts on the matter. … [visit site to read more]
It’s not often that I really loathe a player. Usually I am ok with someone leaving, or I couldn’t care less. I remember wishing Dilfer well when he left. He seemed to leave with a tip of the hat and a hearty handshake. TJ Houshmandzadeh, on the other hand, was a tool, and I could not of been happier to see him released. He was all talk all the time. He blamed everyone but himself for the Seahawks shortcomings. Just an all around jerk. I stated some time ago that if you have that personality on a winning team, you are considered cocky, and fans love it, however, if you harbor the same attitude on a losing team, fans usually hate it, and it makes you look selfish, petty, and spoiled. This is the best way I can describe Houshmandzadeh.
Well today everything came around full circle. TJ dropped the most catchable ball in the universe. This could have been a clutch catch in the waining minutes of the biggest game of his life. This could have proven to the entire country that TJ is who he says he is.
I shouldn’t gloat at another’s failure, but it’s him, and his mouth is nearly as big as his ego. I cannot think of another Hawk that I truly despised as much as him. Hutchinson is up there, but I think, for me, TJ takes the cake. So here’s to your career TJ. It looks to be as washed up as a kid’s car on prom night. That wasn’t even a hard catch, and you dropped it. Maybe you should try making plays before you run your mouth so much. Another option would be retirement.
A friend of mine (a Bears fan) started complaining to me that the Seahawks shouldn’t be playing the Bears this Sunday because they shouldn’t have had a home game in the Wild Card round. Yadda, yadda, yadda. Blah, blah, blah. I just rolled my eyes and let it slide.
Who was the only home team to win last weekend? The Seattle Seahawks.
Who was the only division champion to win last weekend? The Seattle Seahawks.
The New Orleans Saints (11-5) had a better record than the Seahawks (7-9). That’s a fact. However, EVERY ROAD TEAM last weekend had a better record than the home team. How come no one made a fuss about that?!
Baltimore (12-4) had a better record than Kansas City (10-6). The New York Jets (11-5) had a better record than Indianapolis (10-6). Green Bay and Philadelphia had the same record (10-6), but if Philadelphia hadn’t won the NFC East, Green Bay would have won a tiebreaker since they had beaten the Eagles in Week 1. Yet I don’t recall hearing any complaints in the media that the Ravens, Jets and Packers weren’t playing at home.
Last week, if the Saints had been given the choice of playing at ANY of the four division champions’ stadiums, they would have chosen Qwest Field. They got the Seahawks, and they were beaten. They didn’t lose the game by committing several turnovers or key penalties or were victimized by any bad calls. The Seahawks outplayed them. Period.
Did the Seahawks enjoy a home field advantage? Absolutely. So did the Chiefs, Colts and Eagles, and they all lost. (more...)
Pete Carroll and John Schneider both addressed the media at the VMAC yesterday. It was a very busy day for the Seattle Seahawks; the team finalized a deal that sent Josh Wilson to Baltimore, acquired an offensive tackle from Detroit, and restructured Leroy Hill’s contract.
The most unexpected move of the day came when Josh Wilson was traded to the Baltimore Ravens for a conditional fifth-round pick.
“This is an opportunity for us that came along to us because of our depth,” Pete Carroll said, regarding Wilson. “And our situation at the cornerback position that we’re very happy with, with the play of Tru and Kelly Jennings, Walter Thurmond and Roy Lewis. Josh is a great kid and we love him and all of that. But this is a team that really came after him, and it happened very quickly.”
John Schneider, Seattle’s general manager, mostly agreed with Carroll: “Josh has been a factor here for several years now, and has done a great job in the community and everything. He’s very well respected. This was a team that was very aggressive in coming after Josh. They have a situation where they have a strong need. And as Pete said, it has more to do with the way Walter has stepped up, and the way Tru is playing and some of the younger guys.”
Surprisingly, the front office seems excited about the deal.
“It was one of those deals that comes along,” Schneider told reporters. “We get calls on players and we don’t do everything. But this was one of those deals we felt like we couldn’t pass up.”
The Seahawks received a conditional fifth-round pick for Wilson, but the final compensation will likely be a fourth-round pick based on Wilson’s expected contributions in Baltimore. A lot of fans think the Seahawks should have gotten more in return, but Schneider believes the trade met Wilson’s current market value.
“The market is different at different times,” he said. “Randy Moss was traded for a fourth-round pick. So it fluctuates. And right now with Josh in terms of value, we felt like it was at a level with him being an unrestricted free agent next year that it was at a point we felt was definitely fair.”
In the same volatile market only a few years ago, the Seahawks spent a first-round pick to acquire Deion Branch. Hopefully this deal works out better for the team.
Tags: Baltimore Ravens, cornerback, Deion Branch, football, John Schneider, Josh Wilson, Kelly Jennings, Marcus Trufant, nfl, Pete Carroll, Roy Lewis, Seahawks, Seattle Seahawks, trade, Walter Thurmond
Like most fans in Seattle, I don’t quite understand why the Seahawks traded cornerback Josh Wilson. In my opinion, Josh Wilson has been the team’s most productive and impressive defensive back the past two seasons.
Wilson always seemed to be fighting for a starting job during his time spent in Seattle. Pitted against Kelly Jennings, Ken Lucas, and other defensive backs, he always managed to earn playing time and overcome any competition.
While he certainly isn’t an elite defensive back, Wilson is a very good football player. Not many Seahawks are untouchable, but to dump Wilson for a late-round draft pick seems absurd. No doubt the Baltimore Ravens are happy to acquire him for such a bargain price.
Maybe the team is looking to build a group of larger defensive backs. But Josh Wilson played more physical than most of Seattle’s defenders and overcame his physical limitations on the field. Wilson frequently showed off sub-4.4 speed and playmaking ability to make up for his lack of size.
The emergence of young prospects played a role in Wilson’s departure, but I still don’t like letting him walk for a fourth- or fifth-round draft pick.
Roy Lewis and Walter Thurmond have both looked impressive in training camp and exhibition games, and the team probably won’t carry more than four cornerbacks on the 53-man roster. Marcus Trufant is healthy again, and Kelly Jennings is playing good enough to start on the opposite side.
Josh Wilson may have been expendable because of Seattle’s depth at his position, but I have to believe the Seahawks could have demanded more than a late-round pick for him. Considering Baltimore’s reported interest, one would have to assume the Seahawks should have had leverage in any negotiations that took place.
Maybe I’m just overreacting. Maybe Josh Wilson isn’t as good as I think he is; a homer bias can quickly turn good players in great ones.
Either way, best of luck to Josh Wilson in Baltimore. The Ravens are getting a good player for close to nothing and Wilson returns to Maryland where he played college ball.
Everyone involved seems to be a winner – except the Seahawks.
Tags: Baltimore Ravens, cornerback, defensive back, football, Josh Wilson, Kelly Jennings, Marcus Trufant, Maryland, National Football League, nfl, Opinion, Popular, Roy Lewis, Seahawks, Seattle Seahawks, trade, Walter Thurmond
More breaking news from today: the Seahawks have traded cornerback Josh Wilson to the Baltimore Ravens for an undisclosed pick in the 2011 NFL Draft.
Wilson has started 24 games for the Seahawks since they selected him in the second round of the 2007 draft. Since Seattle traded its 2007 first-round pick to New England for Deion Branch, Wilson was the first player the Seahawks selected that year.
In three seasons, Wilson has recorded 130 tackles, 2 sacks, and 6 interceptions. Despite his lack of size – he is only 5-feet-9 and 192 pounds – Wilson developed into one of Seattle’s only playmakers on defense last season. Two of his six interceptions were returned for touchdowns.
Only 25 years old, Wilson will likely have an opportunity to compete for a starting job with the Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens were reportedly very interested in acquiring Wilson, who played at the University of Maryland in college.
One can only hope Baltimore’s interest means a fourth- or maybe third-round pick for the Seahawks. Anything less seems like a bargain; Wilson is a capable starting cornerback and occasional playmaker at the professional level.
UPDATE: The Seahawks will reportedly receive a fifth-round pick from Baltimore in exchange for Josh Wilson. The pick could become a fourth rounder, depending on how many games Wilson starts.