When I think of the NFL Championship game, many wonderful thoughts and memories come to mind. I remember sitting on the couch with my dad during Super Bowl XXV, wearing matching t-shirts, watching our NY Giants win a thriller against the Buffalo Bills (thank you Scott Norwood). I remember living in Phoenix during Super Bowl XXX and having the chance to enjoy the phenomenal event known as the NFL Experience the weeks before the big game. I think of all the great parties I've attended, the food I've put away in my gut, and of course the commercials.
Unfortunately, this year's event will not be remembered by anyone for any of the reasons above. Super Bowl XLVII will simply be known as "The Blackout Bowl." And if you were paying any attention at all to the telecast, you know why.
Early in the 3rd quarter, half of the lights in the New Orleans Superdome lost power and shut off. In addition to the lights, the CBS commentary booth also lost power so we were not able to get an immediate explanation on television of what was going on. At first, the situation was simply perplexing and on some levels a touch scary (welcome to the post 9-11 US mindset). However, over the next 35 minutes, it went from perplexing, to humorous, to annoying, to ridiculous. At one point I was convinced that a 49ers fan had pulled a plug somewhere just to get their team back in the game. After all was said and done last Sunday night, the power outage in NOLA was the #1 topic of discussion.
Oh, by the way, there was a game that night too. And as it turns out, it was a really good one. Had the power never gone out the Ravens might have cruised to their Super Bowl victory, but circumstances as they were allowed San Francisco to make an improbable come back ... one that came up just short of being the greatest turnaround in NFL history.
I would like to say that the Baltimore Ravens played 30 minutes of outstanding football. The first half they put together was close to flawless and they earned their win before the half. Unfortunately for them, they knew it, and they almost blew it for that very reason. Had it not been for some very questionable play calling by Coach Harbaugh (Jim, if you're counting), the Niners would have finished off the storybook ending. And let's talk about that for a moment ... specifically the goal-to-go situation late in the 4th quarter. With only a few minutes left and needing a touchdown, San Fran had the ball inside the Baltimore 10 with 4 chances to put the ball in the end zone. On first down, they ran with Frank Gore to get the ball around the 5 yard line ... conservative but sensible call. However, they proceeded to run the exact same pattern 3 times in a row to get the ball in for a score ... a pass to Michael Crabtree in the right flat. Besides the fact it was ridiculous that no play was called to give Colin Kaepernick the ability to run and use his athletic ability, this was the same pass route that the Niners used to win a close game late in the regular season. Don't you think Jim's brother on the opposite sideline knew this was coming?! The total lack of creativity by the offense was disturbingly poor and ultimately made it much easier for the defense to hold their ground. Oh ... and did anyone else notice on that 4th down play that Vernon Davis was wide open in the middle of the end zone? The Niners can complain all they want about not getting a holding penalty ... had they called a better play it wouldn't have made a difference.
Congratulations to the Baltimore Ravens on winning their 2nd Super Bowl and sending Ray Lewis out as a winner. But honestly, will anyone remember the final score? It's only a week after the game ended and I couldn't tell you right now what the margin of victory was. I know it was close ... but more importantly I know that half the stadium couldn't see their beer cups for 35 minutes. And if I ever forget that, last night's opening skit on SNL will always be there to remind me ... SNL Super Bowl Skit