The Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana on Sunday played host to this year’s instalment of the grandest show in town: Superbowl XLVII – that’s 47 to the uninitiated. The American Football Conference (AFC) champions, the Baltimore Ravens, took on the champs from the National Football Conference (NFC), the San Francisco 49ers for the right to be called the best football team in the world.
In a fashion completely suited to the grand stature of all American sport, this Superbowl had a back story. For the first time in the history of the competition, the competing head coaches were brothers. Ravens’ John Harbaugh took on little brother Jim Harbaugh with Maw and Paw Harbaugh in attendance, leading this year’s contest to be dubbed the ‘Brother Bowl’. This was also the last match to be played by Ray Lewis – of alleged murder fame, as well as being good at the ol’ pigskin – who had announced that this season would be his last. The 49ers started the match as favourites in most sportsbooks by around four points, with rookie quarterback Colin Kaepernick tearing through the competition in his début season, and the 49ers generally having out-performed the Ravens over the course of the regular season.
Following Alicia Keys’ performance of the national anthem and Jennifer Hudson’s collaboration with the Sandy Hook Elementary choir of “America the Beautiful” we were ready for kick off, and the culmination of a full season – both regular and post – in the game that separates legends from icons, and heroes from Hall of Famers.
In a crucial moment of indiscipline costing the 49ers, Ahmad Brooks was caught offside, giving Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco a second chance on third down – a chance which resulted in the match’s first touchdown. In the game’s early section, San Francisco struggled with Kaepernick failing to get a hold in the game. Frequent penalties and possession turnovers, including an uncharacteristic Kaepernick interception, led to the Raven’s taking a lead of 21-6 at half time.
It was of course, the half time show that so many people were in attendance to see. Beyonce did not disappoint, singing a program which included “Love on Top”, “Crazy in Love”, “End of Time” and “Baby Boy” before being joined by the other two off of Destiny’s Child for “Bootylicious”, “Single Ladies” and Beyonce finished on “Halo”. Overall review of the performance: Beyonce is really hot. I miss the football.
The first play of the second half saw a new world record be set, as upon catching the half’s opening kick deep inside his own end-zone, return specialist wide reciever Jacoby Jones ran a 109-yard touchdown in around 11 seconds, setting multiple records in the process. This gave all the momentum to the Ravens, who now had a lead of 28-6 post-touchdown conversion. However, whether due to the electricity in the air, or the Bootylicious half-time performance from Beyonce, a power failure inside the stadium delayed the match by around half an hour. Following the return to the field, the game had well and truly changed. One fumble, a few wonderful passes, and some excellent Kaepernick rushing and all of a sudden only a missed attempt at a two-point conversion stopped the 49ers from levelling the match at 31-31.
With just a few minutes left on the clock, and the 49ers driving for what surely would have been a Superbowl winning touchdown, the Ravens managed to do what they had failed to do on almost every occasion in the match so far: rush the passer, and defend well in the final ten yards. Having turned over possession, the Ravens ran the clock down, leaving just four seconds on the clock with an intentional safety play, leaving them three points clear and to punt the ball. Ultimately, Ginn failed to return the ball more than 31 yards and with that the game was decided, and the Baltimore Ravens invaded the now confetti-sodden pitch, Superbowl champions. In spite of doing almost all of what would have been a record post-season comeback, the 49ers fell just short.