Baltimore Ravens survive San Francisco 49ers comeback to win Super Bowl XLVII

Baltimore Ravens fullback Vonta Leach (top) and defensive back Chykie Brown (23) celebrate after defeating the San Francisco 49ers 34-31 in Super Bowl XLVII at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. (Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports)

After the team went up by a seemingly insurmountable 28-6 score, the Baltimore Ravens’ vaunted defense had to step up with less than two minutes remaining to hold on against the never-say-die San Francisco 49ers, 34-31, in Super Bowl XLVII.

The evening opened up in dominating fashion for Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco and his offensive mates. After spending the better part of the season in the shadow of that aforementioned defense, Flacco and Co. finally looked like they were going to carry their weight en route to a blowout victory.

Flacco, going into free agency this offseason, threw three touchdown passes in the first half alone. His Niners counterpart, Colin Kaepernick, looked every bit the part of a second-year player who only earned the starting nod following a Week 9 concussion to starter Alex Smith.

Kaepernick missed several pass attempts early, even overthrowing tight end Vernon Davis so badly at one point that Ravens safety Ed Reed was able to easily intercept the pass. The interception was the first in Super Bowl history for a 49ers quarterback.

At halftime, the Ravens were up by a commanding 21-6 margin, but it was the very first play of the second half that had presumably put this game to bed with a full 30 minutes remaining. Ravens special teams superstar Jacoby Jones returned the second half opening kickoff 109 yards for a touchdown. He became the first player in Super Bowl history to both receive a touchdown pass and return a kick for a touchdown.

His return made the score 28-6, but at that point the game looked like it might be a tale of two halves — or rather, a tale of two lightings. The lights went out in the Superdome, and with the darkness a switch was seemingly flipped on in the mind of Kaepernick, running back Frank Gore and the Niners’ defense.

San Francisco went on to score three times in a four-minute span. First, Kaepernick rifled a pass to receiver Michael Crabtree for a 31-yard strike, then Frank Gore trotted in for a nine-yard score, and finally David Akers made good on a disappointing season with a 34-yard field goal.

Almost before the Ravens could breathe, coach John Harbaugh had watched his younger brother’s team pile up 17 points, bringing the score to a nail-biting 28-23 margin entering the fourth quarter.

Neither team was finished, but the Ravens, and rookie kicker Justin Tucker, did just enough to hold off Kaepernick’s best efforts at pulling off the comeback of the century. Ten points is the largest deficit ever overcome in Super Bowl history, and San Francisco nearly pulled off a 22-point return after coming back from a 17-point margin in the NFC Championship game.

Flacco was named the game’s MVP, finishing 22-of-33 passing for 287 yards, three touchdowns and a pristine zero interceptions.

His running back, Ray Rice, fumbled once, but overall finished with 59 yards rushing and another 19 receiving. Anquan Boldin was a receiving superstar, hauling in six passes for 104 yards and a score.

All of this being said, the star of the show was the one and only Ray Lewis. The superstar Ravens linebacker spent all 17 years of his career with the same franchise, tying a bow on his career with seven total tackles — the second most on the team for the game — and his second Super Bowl ring.

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