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Ravens pull the plug on 49ers’ season

Trailing by 22 points, early in the third quarter, the 49ers nearly had the rug yanked from under them. It appeared the team would crash and burn, humiliating themselves in front of millions watching on television around the world.

And then the lights went out in the Superdome, but that turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

A power outage delayed the game for 34 minutes. When play resumed, San Francisco scored 17 unanswered points to get within five points.  The rest of the contest became a grudge match but in the end, the Baltimore Ravens emerged victorious claiming their second Vince Lombardi trophy, beating the 49ers, 34-31 in Super Bowl XLVII.

For the second time in two years, John Harbaugh got the better of his younger brother Jim in the first time two brothers coached against each other for the league championship.

Post-Game Audio: Ravens head coach John Harbaugh

“I just knew with Jim Harbaugh being the other sideline and all the years we’d been together, that that game was going to be a dogfight right to the end. There’s no greater competitor, there’s no greater coach, in the National football League or in the world as far as I’m concerned, than Jim Harbaugh.”

Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco had 287 yards passing, threw three touchdowns and was named the MVP.

Post-Game Audio: Ravens Quarterback Joe Flacco

“It hasn’t sunk in yet…crazy, unbelievable.  Tough to put into words because it just really hasn’t sunk in yet.  I don’t even think it sunk in that we were here, let alone won the thing so pretty cool.”

Although it was the first loss for the 49ers in the Super Bowl, 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick nearly engineered a comeback that would have surpassed his heroics in the NFC Championship Game.

After the glitzy halftime show by Beyonce, Ravens kick returner Jacoby Jones tied the NFL postseason record with his amazing 108-yard return on the first play in the third quarter, extending Baltimore’s seemingly insurmountable lead to 28-6.

On the ensuing drive for the 49ers, on the third play of the drive, Kaepernick was sacked for a loss and then the stadium went dark.  It took 24 minutes to get the lights back on and officials to give the OK to resume the game.  Perhaps the delay was what the 49ers needed to  get cooking.

Without power in the Superdome, the air conditioning failed causing the temperature to warm significantly.   Backup lights run by generators were on but not enough to continue the game.

Following the delay, San Francisco reached the end zone on a 31-yard touchdown pass from Kaepernick to Michael Crabtree, completing an 80 yard drive in seven plays.

Baltimore finally got back on the field but due to the lengthy halftime show and outage, the Ravens offense hadn’t played in 84 real-time minutes and it showed.  The Ravens promptly went three-and-out and forced to punt the ball back to the 49ers.

Ted Ginn returned a short punt 32-yards to get to the Ravens red zone.  Two plays later, it was Frank Gore running to his right for a 6-yard scoring run cutting the deficit to 28-20.

Now a one-score game, the 49ers hope of making it a game became a reality and not just a pipe dream.  Flacco threw a 1-yard pass to Ray Rice but Tarell Brown caused Rice to fumble the ball and San Francisco recovered the ball at the Ravens 24-yard line.  Unfortunately the drive stalled and the 49ers had to settle for a field goal.

49ers kicker David Akers, much maligned and deservedly so for missing the most field goal attempts of anyone in the NFL, did so again as his 39-yard attempt was wide left.  Luckily for him, the Ravens were penalized for running into Akers on the kick moving the ball up five yards.  This time, Akers was perfect as the ball spun through the uprights and now the two teams were separated by only five points.

Kaepernick orchestrated a drive that saw him score on a 15-yard run to cut the lead to 31-29. The 49ers failed on the two-point conversion that would have tied the game.

After the second field goal by Tucker, the 49ers had 4:19 left to complete the storybook comeback.   A 33-yard run by Gore got them to the Ravens 7-yard line.  Gore just couldn’t get that extra burst of speed to make it into the end zone.  That would prove costly as Kaepernick failed on three consecutive pass attempts.

On 4th-and-5, Kaepernick threw a fade to Michael Crabtree in the right corner of the end zone but the ball was out of his reach.  However, replays  showed that Crabtree was unable to break free from cornerback Jimmy Smith and it appeared that holding should have been called against Baltimore to keep the drive alive.

49ers coach Jim Harbaugh spoke about that play.

Post-Game Audio: 49ers Head Coach Jim Harbaugh

“We had several opportunities in the game…this wasn’t our best game.  The Ravens made a lot of plays.  But our guys battled back to get back in it and competed and battled to win it. There’s no question in my mind, that there was a pass interference and then a hold on Crabtree on the last one.”

The Ravens got the ball back but were deep in their own territory.  Baltimore head coach John Harbaugh ran the clock down to :12 and on fourth down, punter Sam Koch ran around the end zone until he was forced to take a safety.

Ginn represented the team’s last hope with :04 left.  He returned the ensuing kick 31-yards but time expired and he was tackled to end the game.

In the end, even a heroic charge by Kaepernick and the 49ers couldn’t overcome their sloppy first half.

Post-Game Audio: 49ers Quarterback Colin Kaepernick

“It’s very frustrating.  We just didn’t finish our drives, we turned the ball over a couple of times and that was the difference in the game.”

Special thanks to Shawn McCullough for post-game audio, covering the Super Bowl in New Orleans.

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