Super Bowl XLVII Recap: Ravens 34 – 49ers 31

Super Bowl XLVII

Super Bowl XLVII

Finally Super Sunday dawned like Christmas day for football fans and of course the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers. However once the game kicked off the 49ers inexperience immediately hampered early success. After forcing a 3rd and nine where the Ravens didn’t convert, Ahmad Brooks jumped offsides giving the Ravens new life. The Ravens converted and scored with Flacco hitting Anquan Boldin from 13 yards out to make it 7-0 Baltimore.

As expected the 49ers came out in the Pistol offense and moved the ball for the next couple of drives but went 1 of 3 on their first third downs and kicked the ball several times to the Ravens. They did have Ray Lewis and the Ravens befuddled as they drove the football and kicked a field goal to cut it to 7-3 before inexperience hit San Francisco again. On a quick outside play, LeMichael James instead of going down, fought for more yards and had the football knocked loose and the Ravens recovered.

The subsequent drive had one of the highlights in Flacco’s career. While holding a pensive 7-3 lead Joe was flushed by a blitzing Aldon Smith and scrambled to his right. Where it seemed like a perfect time to throw it away, the new Joe Flacco heaved it for 30 yards where Anquan came up with the football. A huge first down that allowed the Ravens to keep the momentum and take a 14-3 lead. Even if you go back to the first play of the game, Kaepernick hit Vernon Davis with a 20 yard gain. It was called back with an illegal formation and they stayed a step behind Baltimore ever since.

Torrey Smith and the prettiest Ravens in the building.

Torrey Smith and the prettiest Ravens in the building.

Then the quarterback that swore he was never nervous about the Super Bowl, showed his nerves as he overthrew his receiver and S Ed Reed picked it off on the San Francisco end of the field. Frustration boiled over as a fight ensued. The 49ers have played on the edge being a defensive bully on the NFC block and they were getting beaten by a team that has been an NFL bully for 13 years. The 49ers thought they were the more physcial team and found out they had run smack into a buzzsaw. They were down 14-3 and were starting to sweat. After a botched fake field goal gave the Niners the ball back Kaepernick was jittery and nearly threw a second interception to a diving Cary Williams. Then the Jacoby Jones highlight reel started.

First Flacco hits him with a 56 yard bomb to put the Ravens up 21-3 and he totally had blown by the secondary for the catch. He then got up and raced into the end-zone and the Ravens were up 21-3 and it looked like they were headed to hoist the trophy. After a field goal by the 49ers to cut the lead to 21-6, the momentum was clearly Baltimore’s as the teams left the field.

Coming from halftime, the first thoughts were for the 49ers to stop the Ravens who were going to get the ball after the kick. Get the Ravens to  go 3 and…..ooops!! Jacoby Jones sets a league record by bringing the second half kick 109 yards for a touchdown to make it 28-6 and the ballon of confidence popped on the San Francisco sideline!!  A few plays later the lights went out…literally! We had a 36 minute play stoppage but the Niners were about to be blown out of the stadium.  Or so it appeared… It was eery watching the players try to keep warmed up in a semi-dark Super Dome. The only delay that was close to this was the “Fan-Man” incident during a Riddick Bowe v. Evander Holyfield championship match in 1993.

Ravens Brass holding the hardware.

Ravens Owner Steve Biscotti and Head Coach Jim Harbaugh hoisting the Vince Lombardi Trophy while CBS’ Jim Nantz looks on.

After the outage, the Ravens came out flat and the 49ers seized the momentum, outscoring the Ravens 17-0. First a touchdown throw from Kaepernick to Crabtree for 31 yards to first cut the lead to 28-13. On the next series Flacco is swallowed by Ahmad Brooks on third down forcing a punt. Then the game swung big time! First Ted Ginn Jr took the punt around midfield and ran it back to the Raven 20 yard line. Couple plays later Frank Gore took a handoff around right end on a counter and the 49ers had cut the game to 28-20. Over the next few minutes the 49ers had all the momentum and it looked like the Ravens were hanging on for dear life.

In a wild second half Colin Kaepernick found his groove. He eventually completed 16 of 28 for 302 yards and 1TD to Michael Crabtree. He also rushed 6 times for 62 yards and the touchdown to cut the Ravens lead to 31-29 with just over 7 minutes to go in the game. Kaepernick’s game was transcendent and elevated this Super Bowl into one of the greatest ever. He completed all the throws and shook off his second quarter jitters and being down 34-29 after a Ravens field goal, everyone held their breath as the Niners raced downfield.  With just over two minutes to go, Frank Gore burst around left end and gave the Niners a first and goal from inside the 10 yard line. San Francisco was on the brink of the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history. They just needed 8 yards…

The last play of Ray Lewis career. A 4th down incompletion in Super Bowl XLVII.

The last play of Ray Lewis career. A 4th down incompletion in Super Bowl XLVII.

That’s when the heart of a champion showed up in the form of the Baltimore Ravens defense. They stuffed one running play and played discipline football in stringing out two passes to the sideline. There were no openings for Kaepernick to throw the football. Then as it had on a two point attempt earlier, the Ravens blitzed on 4th down, Kaepernick lofted the ball for Michael Crabtree but the throw was errant thanks to the pressure. Baltimore escaped with a World Title thanks to a goal line stand to end Ray Lewis’ story career.

The MVP of the game was Joe Flacco and it could be argued that he almost played his way out of it. In the first half he was brilliant throwing for 192 yards with 3TDs on 13 of 20 passes. Once he was sacked by Brooks during the 49ers furious 3rd quarter rally he stopped throwing downfield and started to look like “the old Joe Flacco”. Yet once the Niners cut the lead to 31-29, Joe drove the Ravens on a 10 play 59 yard drive and gave the Ravens defense 5:29 of possession time to rest. On the drive he hit Anquan Boldin with three passes, one a critical third down that kept the chains moving. The subsequent 38 yard field goal by Tucker put the Ravens up by 5, 34-29 and no one was safe.

Ray Lewis, from The [[_]] hoists the Lombardi Trophy for the second time in his last NFL game.

Ray Lewis, from The [[_]] hoists the Lombardi Trophy for the second time in his last NFL game.

In the end, the Ravens gutted it out in that goal line stand and the difference could have been borne from the rest Flacco and the offense gave them from the previous drive. After three plays the Ravens took a ceremonious safety that gave them a 34-31 lead while effectively running out the clock.

World Champion Baltimore Ravens! The victors in one of the most exciting Super Bowls ever. The vanquished 49ers had to exit the field as the purple and gold confetti fell on one of the most unlikely NFL champions ever. In one of our Super Bowl articles, our CEO said to “never underestimate what it means for a man to motivate other men.” Inside the 10 with just 1 minute to go, Ray got his guys to focus on those 4 plays. This team was flat coming down the stretch losing 4 of 5 to finish the season and it looked like another mid playoff exit was brewing.

Ray announces this would be his last go ’round and everything changed for the Baltimore Ravens. Cell phones were left out of meetings and players focused that much more on the game. The miracle double overtime win was one of the greatest in NFL history and one Flacco had to throw a 70 yard touchdown with less than a minute to go to tie it. In a year where former Owner Art Modell passes earlier in the season, OJ Brigance fighting ALS while working in the Ravens front office, Torrey Smith losing his brother and coming back to play for the Ravens with a heavy heart, they drew inspiration from within. Once Lewis admission to retire at the end of these playoffs and they were playing for something bigger than themselves. They needed every bit of spirit and motivation to upset the favored San Francisco 49ers by 8 yards.

The game won’t be the same without Ray Lewis but he leaves with another championship ring.

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The 2013 Class of Hall of Fame Enshrinees: Bill Parcells & Cris Carter

300_110727The Pro Football Hall of Fame is the culmination of a career where a player, coach or owner stood as giants of the game. Once they’re enshrined here, they belong to every football fan for all eternity. Family members and fans can come to a place where they’ll be forever young and immortalized as one of the greats of all time.

This was the 50th anniversary class of those that went in. There will be another day for those that didn’t make it on this ballot but this is where we celebrate those that did make it.

Parcells

2013 Hall of Fame Enshrinee

Coach Bill Parcells – The only coach in NFL history to take 4 teams to the NFL’s post-season. Although many still think of him as the Head Coach of the New York Giants, don’t forget he took the 1998 New York Jets to a 12-4 record and the AFC Championship that season. This came on the heels of taking the New England Patriots to Super Bowl just two seasons before. His last good team was the 2007 Dallas Cowboys that finished 13-3 that should have played for it all. If not for a Patrick Crayton dropped pass in the 4th quarter, he may have had a third make the Super Bowl.

He finished 172-130-1 in the regular season and was 11-8 in the playoffs including 2 Super Bowls. Yet think about it?? He almost led four different teams to the Super Bowl, the latter three in an 11 year period. His famous departure from New England where he claimed “If you’re going to cook the meal you should be able to shop for the groceries.” He shopped for former Patriot in Hall of Fame back Curtis Martin and resurrected Vinny Testaverde’s career and pointed Bryan Cox in the right direction.  He’s now where he belongs, among the true giants of the game.

From THE Ohio State University: Cris Carter

From THE Ohio State University: Cris Carter

WR Cris Carter -What can’t be said that we hadn’t already said in our article about his Hall of Fame candidacy?? Has there been a better set of hands in the history of Pro Football?? How many ridiculous one handed catches did Cris Carter make during his great career with the Philadelphia Eagles and mainly with the Minnesota Vikings?? At first glance, the numbers stand out with 1,101 receptions for 13,899 yards and 130 touchdowns. Good for 2nd most in NFL history for receptions and receiving touchdowns at the time of his retirement.One of the greatest attributes is that he honed his skill amidst a myriad of pedestrian NFL quarterbacks.

The Vikings claimed Carter from the waiver wire for $100!! They nabbed a Hall of Fame wide receiver for half the price of a smartphone. Think about that for a second. With the humbling experience he rededicated himself and gave up his tempestuous ways and became a polished receiver with the Vikings. So polished that he thrived with moderate quarterbacking in Minnesota in the ensuing years. Do you realize that in just 12 years for the Norsemen he caught 1,004 receptions for 12,383 yards and 110 touchdowns?? Do you also realize he did most of this while catching passes from the likes of a moderately successful Sean Salisbury, a decade away from developing Rich Gannon, an eroding (with his fourth team) Jim McMahon, a developing Brad Johnson, and an on the downside late 30′s Warren Moon?? Now why didn’t we place an out of retirement Comeback Player of the Year Randall Cunningham with this group?? Because his three best years came before the famous 1998 Vikings everyone remembers with Cunningham & Randy Moss.

Carter, along with Jerry Rice became the first receivers not named Sterling Sharpe to have 100 receptions in back to back seasons for 1994 & 1995. Carter caught 122 in ’94 then 122 in ’95 as compared to Rice’s 112 and 122 respectively. It was 1994-1996 where Carter did his best work. In 1994 his stat-line was 122 rec. for 1,256 yards and 7 TDs. He followed that up with 122 receptions for 1,371 yards and a career high 17 touchdowns in 1995. Lets compare these numbers with Hall of Famer Jerry Rice and should be Hall of Famer Sterling Sharpe over their best 3 year periods. Where Sharpe’s numbers are 1992-1994, Rice and Carter’s are both from 1994-1996.

  • Cris Carter (1994-1996) 340 receptions, 3,790 yards & 34TDs
  • Jerry Rice (1994-1996) 342 receptions, 4,601 yards & 36TDs
  • Sterling Sharpe (1992-1994) 314 receptions, 3,854yards & 42 TDs

No longer does he have to be compared or concerned about not being enshrined. We will hear this come August: For induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, I present to you “From THE Ohio St University” Cris Carter!

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George S Halas – A Word on Papa Bear & 1963 NFL Championship Highlight

"Papa Bear" George Halas

“Papa Bear” George Halas (Feb. 5, 1895 – Oct. 31, 1983)

In the last few years, we get to the NFL playoffs, it’s interesting to hear short sighted fans ask why the NFC Championship trophy is named after George S. Halas and the Super Bowl trophy is named after Vince Lombardi. Several times our CEO has heard on multiple occasions that one of the trophies should be named after Tom Landry. Those Cowboy fans couldn’t be more delusional.

First off, Tom Landry never had a back to back champion that would qualify any of his Cowboy teams as a best ever unit. What would be the basis for this?? Because he won 2 championships as coach of the Dallas Cowboys and coached for 29 years?? That is nowhere near close enough to unseat George Halas who coached for 40 years, and his six championships are the most ever. Not only is he the Phil Jackson of the National Football League when it comes to coaching championships, he’s also the  founding father of the NFL and the Chicago Bears. No George Halas, no NFL, its that simple.

Don Shula has overtaken him as the coach with the most wins 347-324, but you have to realize he was there pushing the pro game from it’s infancy to the modern age. Yet if you want to base it on just coaching feats try these on…

Ring for the 1933 Chicago Bears championship rings

Ring for the 1933 Chicago Bears championship.

Earlier we mentioned Landry not having coached back to back champions, well Halas did it twice. First in the 1932 & 1933 seasons, then in 1940 & 1941. The latter dynasty featured the 73-0 defeat of the Washington Redskins in the 1940 NFL Championship Game that introduced a new backfield alignment, the T-Formation. For a seven year period, his Chicago Bears won 4 championships which nearly equals what the Steelers (4 in 6 yrs) did in the 1970’s. His greatest team were none of these.

In 1934 with his chance to three-peat, he had an undefeated team in the NFL Championship Game when the Giants “outsmarted” them switching to basketball shoes on in icy field. That 30-13 loss brought an end to his first dynasty. So it wasn’t Don Shula with the first team to finish the regular season undefeated and Bill Belichick suffered the same fate in 2007, but he was going for 3 in a row at the time.

As for his last championship in 1963:

George Halas Bust

The George Halas Trophy that is awarded to the NFC Champion.

The George Halas Trophy that is awarded to the NFC Champion.

George Stanley Halas led an incredible football life. Without his efforts of over 60 years the National Football League and the subsequent All America Football Conference and the American Football League wouldn’t have had the wings to take flight. Each of those rival leagues had to have the NFL to aspire to be greater than. So when you see his name on the side of the NFC Championship Trophy, understand his importance to pro football.

The list of his Champion Chicago Bears championship teams:

Dedicated to the memory of George Stanley Halas (Feb. 5, 1895- Oct. 31, 1983)

The ring for George Halas' last champion Bear team from 1963.

The ring for George Halas’ last champion Bear team from 1963.

The Soul of The Game: Dick “Night Train” Lane

When you talk about the soul of the NFL game, you can’t tell the story of hitting and defensive might without “Night Train” Lane. A Hall of Fame member. In fact one thing you’ll note as we go through this series is the fact that most of these players were bigger than what was customary for playing their respective positions. Standing 6’1 and 195lbs in 1952, Lane was the size of your average linebacker but was platooned at cornerback. In fact he was trying out at receiver and projected to be a tight end hence his wearing the number 81. Yet he was moved to the defensive side of the ball where he went to work.

Lane was one of the hardest hitters of the 1950’s and early 60s where he manhandled smaller receivers and runners. Many of which he tackled around the head using the facemask. Of course these tactics are outlawed today but Lane was the reason for these new rulings. As you will see in this NFL Films short he was savage when he brought down an opponent. He had complete disregard for his body with his reckless play so naturally he didn’t care for his opponent’s.

However one of the differences between Lane and other hard hitting defensive backs in history, he still made plays on the ball. Think about it for a second… When I say envision Jack Tatum you can’t conjure up a single image of his intercepting a pass. In fact Lane’s rookie record of 14 interceptions in a 12 game season is an NFL record that still stands and will never be broken. It has stood for over 60 years and the closest anyone has come to it was Lester Hayes in 1980 with 13, then Everson Walls with 11 in 1981. Those were achieved during the modern 16 game season format.

Lane was the prototype to the modern NFL cornerback in baiting quarterbacks to throw in his area by allowing the receiver to look as though they were open. Then he’d swoop in for the interception. If he was late getting there…well…this is what happened

Dick “Night Train” Lane left us in 2002, yet his spirit of hard hitting football lives on every time you see a defensive back clock a receiver. Yet a clean shot can be delivered with a forearm or a shoulder and not lead with the head. This Hall of Fame talent played 14 seasons, made 7 pro bowls and has his bust in the Pro Football Hall of Fame

Everson Walls Belongs In the Hall of Fame

Walls on an interception return v. St. Louis Cardinals

In the history of football, one of the hardest positions to judge or gauge performance is cornerback. Many times they’re overlooked when we speak of their careers as a whole because they rarely have a lot of tackles or hard hits.  So we tend to think of defenisve linemen or linebackers first. However after the NFL instituted rule changes that favored the passing game in 1978.  A more fluid athlete was needed to turn and run with receivers who could no longer be hit beyond 5 yards of the scrimmage line. The day of the super physical Mel Blount type cornerback was over and a new type of player would emerge.

The Dallas Cowboys of 1980 saw a secondary in flux with many of their great ’70s players aging, and teams piled points on ’em  after years of abuse. They gave up 311 points or nearly 20 a game. Mel Renfro had retired a few years back and Cliff Harris’ left after the 1979 season and the secondary was having epic breakdowns.

Even in Roger Staubach’s famous come from behind victory over the Redskins in the 1979 finale, the defense had given up 34 points at home in that game. So losing an All Decade performer in Cliff Harris and injuries to Randy Hughes magnified Cowboys problems.  By the time the 1980 playoffs began, the Cowboys couldn’t cover a child with a blanket. Cornerback Aaron Mitchell got lit up by Alfred Jenkins ( 4 rec. 155 yds, 1 TD) of the Atlanta Falcons in a playoff game known for being Danny White’s first great comeback. They prevailed 30-27 but a defensive back upgrade was top priority in the 1981 NFL Draft.

Enter Everson Walls, a lanky fast cornerback the Dallas Cowboys drafted out of Grambling in 1981.  He was a clearly brought in to be a cover man first and run supporter second.  He burst onto the scene in his rookie year when he led the NFL in interceptions with 11 while making the Pro Bowl as a rookie. Coming a year after Lester Hayes breakout 1980 campaign when he totaled 13 interceptions, Walls season was somewhat overlooked. While pundits duked it out over which cornerback was the best of the new breed, Walls interception totals didn’t drop over the ensuing years as Hayes did once stickum was outlawed.

After the strike shortened year of 1982 in which the NFL only played 9 regular season games, Walls led the NFL again in interceptions with 7.  Teams were avoiding throwing in his area and he gambled his way to a better season than his first.  Projected over a 16 game season, he would have equaled the 13 that Lester Hayes had in his near record breaking campaign in 1980.  After having 11 the year before?? Now that is an encore.

Everson Walls battling a rookie Jerry Rice in 1985

One of the reasons that Walls gets overlooked is he played for the Dallas Cowboys after their Super Bowl appearances of the late 70s.  This was the era in which the Dallas Cowboys lost three consecutive NFC Championship games, so the stars of this time weren’t lionized by NFL pundits like their 70’s counterparts. Much of this can be attributed to the 1981 NFC Championship Game in which Dwight Clark soared high to make “The Catch” and Walls was falsely treated as a goat for allowing it.

Yet many of those same pundits forget that earlier in the game Walls had made several key plays which included 2 interceptions to halt 49er drives. One of which in the endzone.  He had played an exceptional game even in that defeat.

The Cowboys were a playoff team in 1983 yet teams threw away from Everson Walls at all costs.  However in 1985 he re-emerged to lead the NFL again with 9 interceptions. By doing so he became the only player in league history to lead 3 times in interceptions. It was at this point there had to be a reason for this gambler from Grambling picking off so many passes.

In John Madden’s second book “One Knee Equals Two Feet”, John cited the reason for Walls high totals a byproduct for teams having to throw over 6 foot 9, Ed “Too Tall” Jones. Jones was the defensive end on Walls side but that isn’t true. If you look at the 1977 and 1978 seasons, the Doomsday Defense II and “Too Tall” were at their zenith. In ’77 the Cowboys were the last team to win the Super Bowl with a team that was #1 on offense and defense yet the highest interception total was 5 by Benny Barnes. In the ’78 season in which they returned to the Super Bowl the highest cornerback total was 3. Walls with 11, 7 (projected 13), and 9 interception totals dwarf those with an aging Jones in front of him.

What are we saying?  Its time to give credit where credit is due. When you think of impact at cornerback you think of interceptions and the ability to battle the league’s best. Walls faced Roy Green, Hall of Famer Art Monk, and Mike Quick who were the NFC’s best and came out on top in many battles. Walls would go on to finish with 57 interceptions over his 12 year career.  He was a 4 time Pro Bowler yet was a first team All Pro just once. How does that happen when he led the league in interceptions 3 times??

The Cowboys were penalized after losing the Battle of Champions to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XIII, and the fallout includes the early 80s Cowboys when it comes to Hall of Fame consideration. While most short sighted columnists would remind you that his Dallas Cowboys never won a Super Bowl as for reason for the snub.

Super Bowl XXV Cover Pic of Everson Walls

Yet one of the most important roles in his career was when he teamed with Mark Collins, and Perry Williams to give the New York Giants 3 excellent corners to shut down the Buffalo Bills 3 receivers in Super Bowl XXV. Early in that game it was Walls who caught James Lofton after a deflected pass gained Buffalo 61 yards and into Giant territory.  On a crucial 3rd down it was Walls who broke up a pass for Thurman Thomas that forced the Bills to settle for a field goal. Had he not caught Lofton or stopped the Bills from gaining a first and goal, how could that have affected a game in which the Giants won just 20-19??   So he was a Super Bowl champion, so scratch that off the list of why he doesn’t belong.

He was forever immortalized on the cover of Sports Illustrated after that game. Two weeks ago, Everson Walls was inducted into the Grambling Hall of Fame.  In recent years this consummate teammate made headlines by donating a kidney to former Cowboy Ron Springs in a gesture that says more about the man than his playing ability. He is an excellent ambassador to the game of football, signing autographs and constantly meets and communicates with fans through social media and Cowboys engagements. However it was his exploits as one of “Thurman’s Thieves” that made it all possible.

For induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, I present to you Everson Walls