Another seasons is now behind us with the Baltimore Ravens winning Super Bowl XLVII. They went out and proved all the doubters wrong by beating three excellent (some may say superior) teams on the road to the title. They battled their way into the post season, after some disappointing losses (blown out at home by the Broncos, defeated by the Charlie Batch led Steelers and an end of the season loss to the one and done Bengals). Entering the post season, many analysts wondered if they were playoff material, let alone championship worthy. But just like the winning teams that preceded them, they were able to heat up just in time. No one could argue that the Ravens made plays to win. Whether it was a timely tip by Cary Williams or Joe Flacco extending a play with his legs before making a third down completion, they executed a game plan and succeeded.
On the other side of the field, the San Francisco 49ers came up just short. They looked nervous to start, which was reflected in back to back drives ending in turnovers. And just when it seemed like the Niners couldn’t get up from the mat, we get one of the most unexpected occurrences in sports history. Jacoby Jones’ kick return for a touchdown seemed to knock out San Francisco. The team was on its last legs. And as if some executives realized the rout was on, the lights went off. And 2 quarters worth of time elapsed. And then it seemed like the brothers and their respective teams’ roles reversed. Though they failed to convert on third down when play resumed, Colin Kaepernick and the Niners displayed the poise of a championship caliber team. Kaepernick made all the right reads and throws. He got his team to within a two point conversion of tying the game. But where the Ravens made plays to win in the 4th quarter, the Niners didn’t. Vernon Davis had a ball slip out of his reach during a pivotal moment. Linemen and tail backs were unorganized forcing Jim Harbaugh to use one of his time outs. And Kaepenick’s play reminded you that while he has been a wunderkind, he still has started less than a dozen games in the NFL.
Looking forward, the Niners appear to have a brighter future. They have a quarterback who has the all world skills and talent to run the very popular spread option offense. On defense, they remind you of the Ravens’ squad from the early 2000’s. They have a fearsome defender in the middle (Patrick Willis) and several playmakers on the defensive line and in the secondary. The Ravens will go into next season a team full of veterans that is another year older. With Ray Lewis making his expected move to sports analysis, and several players with contract issues (Ed Reed, Anquan Boldin and Joe Flacco), it might be a transition year. But even I’ll admit it is too early to wonder who will be playing in New York for the title in 2014. To the victor go the spoils and the time to enjoy them.