The Super Bowl is just 5 days away. Let’s look at the Super Bowl from 5 years ago to honor this not that significant occasion!
New Orleans hosted Super Bowl XLVII on February 3, 2013. The game pitted the NFC champion San Francisco 49ers against the Baltimore Ravens of the American Football Conference.
San Francisco 49ers 5 Years Ago
From 1981 to 1998, there was no more decorated franchise in the NFL than the San Francisco 49ers. But, they fell on hard times as they entered the 21st century. They bounced back in a big way with the hiring of Jim Harbaugh. Harbaugh’s 49ers played tough, physical defense and ball control offense. On offense, Frank Gore out of the University of Miami was the masterpiece.
In 2011, the 49ers great defense helped them get to overtime in the NFC championship game. They were stunned in that game due to a special-teams miscue. The 2012 team got off to another good start, but Harbaugh made a surprising move prior to a week 11 game against Chicago. He switched from Alex Smith to Colin Kaepernick at starting quarterback.
Kaepernick was mesmerizing to watch. He threw the ball with ferocious velocity and ran like a gazelle in the open field. In his fifth career start, he won at New England 41-34. In his eighth career start and first playoff game, he embarrassed the proud Green Bay Packers 45-31. He passed for 263 yards and two touchdowns. He rushed for 181 yards and 2 more touchdowns including a 56-yarder where he dashed untouched.
In the NFC championship game, the 49ers offense faced its toughest challenge as they fell behind at Atlanta 17-0 early. Matt Ryan torched the Niners defense to the tune of 400 passing yards. Yet, San Francisco kept their poise and stayed in striking distance. Ted Ginn set up the Niners go-ahead score with a 20-yard punt return. Five runs and one pass later, Gore hit the end zone for a 28-24 lead. Atlanta’s final meaningful possession lasted seven minutes but yielded 0 points as Ryan’s fourth down pass from the 10-yard line fell incomplete. The 49ers were back in the Super Bowl for the first time in 18 years!
Baltimore Ravens 5 Years Ago
Like the 49ers, the Ravens lost a heartbreaker in the AFC championship one season earlier. Unlike the 49ers, Baltimore played their stronger ball early in the 2012 season. Led by Joe Flacco, Ray Rice, and several capable receivers, the Ravens started 9-2 including a miraculous win at San Diego. In that game, Rice converted a 4th and 29!
The Ravens followed that up with a three-game losing streak and dropped to the fourth seed in the AFC. Their defense was affected with an injury to veteran Ray Lewis. Baltimore finished an unremarkable 17th in team defense and stumbled into the playoffs to play the up-and-coming Indianapolis Colts.
The Colts Rookie Pro Bowler Andrew Luck was throttled, however, by the proud Ravens “D.” Lewis had announced his retirement, so this was his last home game and it was an emotional one. The Ravens buried the Colts 24-9. Veteran Ed Reed, arguably the best safety ever to do it likewise had a big game helping Baltimore to advance.
Their Divisional round matchup served as this team’s turning point. They were heavy underdogs to Peyton Manning and the Broncos. In his first season with Denver, Manning was not human with his production. But, on this frigid night, the Ravens kept at him despite his hot start. Late in the fourth quarter of his scintillating game, the Ravens faced a third down from their own 30. Flacco launched a ball deep downfield where somehow Jacoby Jones was behind the defense. He scored to tie the game at 35 and send it to overtime. Corey Graham picked off Manning late in the first overtime setting up Baltimore’s game-winning drive in a staggering upset.
In the AFC championship game, the Ravens showed their mettle by frustrating the Patriots time and again in New England. The Patriots were able to take a 13-7 halftime lead, but it could have been more were it not for Baltimore’s excellent red zone defense on this night. Unbelievably, the Patriots did not score in the second half. On offense, Flacco carved up New England with veteran Anquan Boldin scoring twice in the fourth. Baltimore’s 28-13 win sent them off to their second Super Bowl. It was John Harbaugh against Jim Harbaugh in Super Bowl XLVII.
The Lights Go Off
The Ravens continued their hot streak by jumping all over the 49ers. They got off to a solid 14-3 start thanks to a quick strike offense and opportunistic defense. The roof really caved in for San Francisco during a two-minute stretch at the end of the first half and beginning of the second. Jones came back to receive an underthrown bomb and returned the second half’s opening kickoff. The 28-6 appeared to be turn the lights off on the 49ers season.
But, strange things happen in football. Perhaps the strangest incident in Super Bowl history came next as the lights literally were turned off in the Superdome. When the lights came back on, so did the 49ers momentum. They scored 17 points over seven minutes of game time to cut the lead to 28-23 entering the fourth quarter.
The Ravens Hold On
Then, Kaepernick pulled off one of those absurdly easy quarterback sweeps to cut the lead to 31-29. With the score 34-29, the Niners embarked on one last exciting drive into Baltimore’s territory. Kaepernick and Gore took turns making big plays to get San Francisco to the Ravens’ seven-yard line with just one-minute remaining. However, they never reached the promise land. Three consecutive tosses all intended for Michael Crabtree fell incomplete. The Ravens won Super Bowl XLVII thanks to this surprising goal-line stand.
The Ravens have not gotten back to the Promised Land. The 49ers, on the other hand, came back to have a very strong 2013 season but were denied by their archrival Seattle in the NFC championship game.
Kaepernick is now out of football, but for a few seasons, there was no more exciting player in the game. Flacco is still the Ravens’ QB. Will he ever get back to the Super Bowl? We’ll see.
Tomorrow, we will meet the Seahawks amazing “Legion of Boom” defense.
Brandon Fazzolari is a Super Bowl expert…@spot_Bills