If you would have told me after Week 17 that the Ravens were going to win the Super Bowl, I would have laughed in your face. Now, I'm crying in my almond milk.
Baltimore, losers of 4 of their last 5 regular season games, sure didn't look to have much momentum heading in to the playoffs. After a 28-31 loss to Washington in Week 14, coach John Harbaugh fired offensive coordinator Cam Cameron and promoted quarterbacks coach Jim Caldwell to the position. Caldwell had never been a coordinator or called plays prior to his appointment.
What many questioned as an odd move so late in the season with the playoffs in sight turned out to be a not so bad idea after all. The offense opened up, and Joe Flacco was just slinging the ball down the field ad nauseum.
On the other side of the field, the 49ers came up short once again, but in a bigger way this year. Losers of last year's NFC title game, San Francisco looked pretty good going in to the Super Bowl. They had a tough defense and a rising young star at quarterback who could beat you with his arm or his legs. But the wheels fell off, and apparently victory was not in the cards for the younger Harbaugh.
In other news from the game, I don't think they showed nearly enough shots of the Harbaughs in the crowd. I was actually expecting them to almost show the parents and the game on split screen, but they resisted the temptation to do so. Perhaps they learned a lesson after former Rams owner Georgia Frontiere got more airtime during Super Bowl 1999 than Kurt Warner did. Am I the only one who remembers that? Well, trust me, they showed her A LOT.
Also of note:
-- Beyonce broke the Super Bowl!
After Jacoby Jones ran back the second half kickoff 108 yards, I groaned and told myself, "Game over." But then, three plays later, out go the lights! I was actually on my way home from a Super Bowl party when the lights went out (yes, I left after halftime because I'm old and have to be home at a reasonable hour so I can get up early for work in the morning). Um, anyway, the announcers on satellite radio made it sound like the stadium when pitch black. When my husband and I arrived home and turned on the TV, we realized it wasn't nearly the black hole we'd been led to believe from the radio call. The blackout wasn't Beyonce's fault, and the exact cause is unknown. I, however, am grateful for the blackout because I was able to get home in time to put on my flannel jammie pants and a sweatshirt and curl up under a blankie to watch the rest of the Super Bowl - all without missing a play! And, the blackout helped switch the momentum to the 49ers, which made for a much entertaining second half. See? It was win-win-win!
-- Don't let the door hit you on the way out, Ray-Ray.
Perhaps Boomer Esiason said it best during his commentary on Super Bowl Sunday that Baltimore's Ray "Ray-Ray" Lewis had some "character issues." Ray-Ray is probably one of my least favorite players of all time. It's not because he beat that murder rap, it's not because it was recently announced he took a banned substance (deer antler spray, anyone?) to help him recover from what was thought to be a season-ending injury, and it's not even that annoying sense of entitlement attitude he carries around. I think what bothers me the most is that the media, for some unknown reason, does story after story about this guy trying to pass him off as some kind of role model. I certainly would not choose Ray Lewis as any type of role model for America's youth. There are many other truly good guys out there in the NFL and the rest of the sports world whose behavior is worth emulating. Tim Tebow comes to mind. Now you're all rolling your eyes because he's not the greatest football player. Well, maybe not, but he is a great human, and that says a lot more about his character than how many touchdowns he throws. Ray Lewis, while a very good football player with two Super Bowl rings, should not be thrust into a role model position simply because he can bust heads on the football field. His actions and decisions off the field show much more about his character than some gold on his fingers. Love him or hate him, Lewis, who played his last game on Sunday, will go down as one of the most polarizing characters in the NFL.
-- A monkey with a clipboard could have called better plays at the goal line.
Yeah, that's right! A monkey could do it. Maybe even an NFL kicker! OK, now I'm stretching, but definitely the monkey. Seriously, what kind of crappy plays were they calling for the 49ers less than 10 yards away from pay dirt and a possible Super Bowl victory? "Colin Kaepernick on a bootleg!!" screamed the monkey, along with every other viewer with a shred of football knowledge.
Or if not Kaepernick, how about getting the ball to Frank Gore? Vernon Davis? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? No, instead, Kaepernick sat in the pocket and forced the ball three times to Michael Crabtree - a streaky receiver at best. The result? Well, you know.
On a side note, the 49ers play calling inside the 10 wasn't the only questionable call. What was with Baltimore's fake field goal attempt? It wasn't like it was two yards to go for a first down - it was 4th and 9! And really, you want your kicker running 9 yards to try to get a first down? It was the first fake field goal attempt in Super Bowl history, and it was pretty odd.
And speaking of odd (extra side note here), was it just me, or did the 49ers look absolutely clueless that the Ravens were planning to take a safety? Really, how could punter Sam Cook pretty much chew up the rest of the clock without seeing so much as an opponent's hand in his face? Wasn't San Francisco even planning to rush the punt? There wasn't a 49er in the camera shot for the first six seconds! Even Cook looked surprised that nobody was up in his grill. The last few minutes of that game was just a comedy of errors for San Francisco, except the only ones laughing were the Ravens.
Well, fans, it's hard to believe we've reached the end of another season. I've definitely had a great time recapping some of the events from week to week with a little bit of comedic flare, and I hope you all humored me by reading along and perhaps letting out a chuckle or two.
And so, my friends, until September, enjoy the off season!
Hershberger can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org