Out of Darkness(Super Bowl Recap)

The Super Bowl was certainly worth the wait this year wasn’t it?  It had a little bit of everything.  There were offensive explosions, big plays, a little bit of controversy, and definitely a whole lot of drama.  Let me start by saying congratulations to The Baltimore Ravens for becoming Super Bowl Champions.  This was a team victory that took every member of the Ravens to bring the Lombardi Trophy to Baltimore.

Just as I expected the Ravens jumped out to a lead, I just didn’t know they were going to grab that big of a lead.  Did anyone really expect them to dominate that much in the first half?  Now, I myself have underrated Joe Flacco up until this point.  I always thought he had a great arm, and physically he is built like your standard pocket passer.  However, I just never thought he was a guy who would take his game to the next level, and play as well as he did on the grandest of stages.  Boy did he ever, and prove all of his naysayers wrong in the process.  Joe Flacco in his 5th NFL season, outplayed 2 Canton bound QB’s on the road en route to his first Super Bowl appearance.  He played mistake free football throwing 11 TD’s to 0 INT’s in these playoffs.  His stellar play culminated in his first Super Bowl victory and the honors of being named Super Bowl XLVII’s MVP.  While Flacco continued to impress and quiet the critics, this was a team effort and we must give credit to all 53 men on the Ravens roster.  Flacco was the MVP of the game, but the two most crucial plays of the game were made by Jacoby Jones(a dazzling 56 yard receiving TD and a 108 yard kickoff return for a TD).  Anquan Boldin has played like a men possessed, matching his regular season TD total(4) in these playoffs.  The defense that everyone was calling too old to compete was able to contain Kaepernick when it mattered most.  Kaepernick did get his yards on the ground and a rushing TD, but it was the pressure applied from the outside that forced Kaepernick into traffic and caused rushed throws.  Once again the Ravens definitely outplayed their competition, but I saw the better team on paper(the 49ers) make numerous little mistakes throughout the entirety of the game; and that ultimately cost them.  Their long list of inexcusable mistakes began right from their first drive.  On the first play from scrimmage, Kaepernick threw a beautiful ball to Vernon Davis for a 20 yard gain.  On a delayed flag, it turns out that Davis was called for an illegal formation negating the completion and backing them up 5 yards.  This was a sign of things to come.  On the Ravens first possession, it appeared that the 49ers defense made a stop on a 3rd and 9, however Ahmad Brooks had jumped off-sides.  This gave the Ravens another shot at a much more manageable 3rd and 4.  What happened on the very next play?  You guessed it, a touchdown pass from Flacco to Boldin.

On to the 2nd quarter we go with a score of 7-3(Baltimore).  The 49ers started with the ball on their own 20 yard line.  Four plays and a quick two and half minutes later, they found themselves all the way down to the Baltimore 24 yard line, primed and ready to score.  On the very next play Lamichael James(doing his best Michael Vick impression), while attempting to turn a run for a loss into a small gain, FUMBLES THE BALL back to the Ravens.  They proceed to charge down the field and score another TD to make it 14-3.  At this point that score could easily be flipped had the 49ers taken care of the ball and avoided silly mental mistakes.  Now at the time I really hated the fake field goal try by the Ravens, and while I still don’t know if I would have done it, I only slightly dislike it after having time to think about it.  In hindsight it worked perfectly.  John Harbaugh kept the pressure on the great Kaepernick and challenged him to demonstrate his ability to overcome adversity in a 2-minute drill from his own 6 yard line.  He went 3 and out and gave the ball back to Baltimore with a short field.  You’ll never guess what happened next; oh wait yeah maybe you can, touchdown Flacco(am I sensing a theme here?).  I think you all know what happened next.  After what I thought was a pretty decent halftime show(we get it Beyonce, we think you’re hot, and you think you’re really really really really hot), Jacoby Jones returned the opening kickoff of the 2nd half 108 yards for a spectacular TD.  This made the score 28-3 and most of the sports world thought that was the nail in the coffin, but it wasn’t.

The 49ers came out for their first offensive possession in the 2nd half and what came next was exactly what everyone was expecting, right?  Eh probably not.  There was a power outage throughout the ENTIRE STADIUM.  This unprecedented turn of events caused a delay that lasted 34 minutes!!  This occurring on the biggest stage in the world is uncalled for, embarrassing, and down right inexcusable.  Needless to say I’m sure heads are rolling today.  Now all you conspiracy theorist out there can blame the power outage for the swing of momentum in the game, but the 49ers are way too talented to get blown out.  You are probably the same group of people blaming karma for Chris Culliver’s horrid performance last night.  For those of you who don’t know, Culliver is taking a great deal of flack for his anti-gay comments from media week.  Psssssst, Culliver isn’t very good, and the better Harbaugh knew that and took advantage of his opponents weakness.  Which brings me to my next point.  John Harbaugh clearly out-coached his little brother, Jim.  When it came to clock management, play calling, and overall scheme I found Jim to be outmatched in all areas.  Jim did give it his all though in pleading to the referees after Kaepernick’s 4th down try fell to the ground incomplete.  I’m not one to blame the referees for “costing” someone a game, but even my Grandma could see that was a hold.  The Ravens defender must have been childhood friends with Crabtree and really wanted to give him a huge; that’s all.  In retrospect the 49ers should only look at themselves for missed opportunities, not at the referees.

In the end, the play of Flacco, Jones, Boldin, and the Baltimore defense proved to be too much for San Fransisco.  It’s not all bad news for San Fran though.  If you saw that Jell-O commercial you’d know that the city of San Fransisco is getting 10,000 free cups of Jell-O’s chocolate pudding from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. today.  So keep your heads up guys, you get to have pudding today!!  In all seriousness, the 49ers should take the positives from last nights game.  I know it’s heartbreaking to be that close to victory and then have it snatched from you at the last moment.  However, this was a great experience for a young team led by a great young quarterback.  From what I’ve seen from Colin Kaepernick I believe that the sky is the limit for him and his squad.  Don’t be surprised if you see the 49ers being fitted for rings a year from now.  Finally, let us all be thankful there will be another NFL season next year, so Ray Lewis definitely doesn’t get the last word.

Oo Yea I almost forgot….The Super Bowl

Does anybody else hate the fact that we have to wait an extra week for the Super Bowl? Personally, I hate it. Now I know this will never change because god forbid we take money out of anyone’s wallet. That would be a crime. But, from a fans perspective it really irks me that we have football every Sunday for 20 weeks in a row, and then before the most important game of the year we decide to take a week off. The only thing in sports worse than this is the time they take off before the College Football National “Championship”. Now I get why they take the week off. It helps set the stage by building up the anticipation for the game, the players get to have time with their families and friends in a different city every year, and the NFL gets to grab its share of the prize through player appearances and media week. Also, the host city boosts its economy while the NFL is in town. With all that being said, I still wish they would do away with the circus that is media week.

Lets move past the things we can not change. However, I do think the week off has an effect on the outcome of the game. The Ravens have been riding this wave of “destiny” as some would call it. When people say that Ray Lewis is destined to win this Super Bowl in his last season, I say they are carrying momentum through the playoffs. Most of this momentum is due to getting injured players back at the right time and Joe Flacco playing out of his mind right now doesn’t exactly hurt either. In my opinion the week off definitely favors the 49ers. It gives some of the injured 49ers a chance to get healthy, most notably Justin Smith. And it could possibly slow the Baltimore train that steamrolled its way through New England(which feels like a month ago not a week ago). Now am I saying that I want the Ravens to win and it’s an unfair advantage for them to have an extra week off? No not at all. I actually want the 49ers to win, due to my slight dislike of Ray “I didn’t do it” Lewis. What the Ravens need to do to win this game is try to be the more physical team. That is not an easy task when playing San Francisco. If you have watched them play this year you’d know that Navorro Bowman, Patrick Willis, and Aldon Smith are beasts on the football field. So, lets assume that the 49ers are going to be the more physical team on Sunday. How else can the Ravens win this football game without divine intervention? Well, a heavy dose of Ray Rice would be a nice start, but that will only be effective if Joe Flacco starts the game by taking deep shots down the field. This will stretch the field, keep the 49ers secondary honest, and prevent them from creeping towards the line on running plays. Once a nice balance of run and pass has been established that should allow an opportunity for them to go play action to Torrey Smith or Anquan Boldin throughout the game. This game plan should allow the Ravens to regain their momentum they’ve been carrying the past couple of weeks. While I believe this will work in the first half and the Ravens should jump out to an early lead, I don’t see them sustaining their offensive attack. Ultimately, I think the outcome of this game will come down to the team that is more physical and whichever QB plays better. I’m not going to lie, I’ve been waiting for Colin Kaepernick to make a huge “rookie” mistake that will cost his team a game. It just hasn’t happened yet, and I’m not about to pick this game for it to start. I think he’ll play mistake free football and manage the game as he has done since he took the reigns of this machine 10 weeks ago. I see this being a close game where the Ravens jump out to an early lead. However, in the end I see the 49ers controlling the time of possession and just playing too physical a brand of football for the Ravens to withstand. Sorry Ray, your “path” ends in New Orleans. You’ll have only your own shortcomings to thank for losing this game. My prediction for this game is 27-23(San Francisco). Enjoy the game!

NFC Championship Recap

Originally Posted on 1/20/13 @ 7:01 P.M.

Well, I came about 12 yards short and a 4th and 4 away from hitting the score of this game right on the head. If you read my preview of the NFC Championship, I had the Falcons winning on a last second TD(31-24).  So close but oh so far.  The Falcons put forth a great effort, and I want to congratulate them on a wonderful season. First, I must ask, why in the world would you put Matt Ryan on the move for one of the most important plays of the game? 3rd and 4 when it’s touchdown or bust is not the time to try something new with a straight forward, very good, pocket passer. Anyway, if you had watched this football game without looking at the score, you would have thought the Falcons won by 2 touchdowns. However in the end, the 49ers defense and running attack along with some untimely Falcons mistakes was too much for Atlanta to handle in the 2nd half.  Kaepernick did not make the mistakes I foresaw him making, on the other hand it was Matt Ryan making 2 very poor mistakes in the 2nd half that cost them the game. His interception was just a flat out poor decision. And the fumble was simple, he decided to look at the 49ers defense, that was coming for his head, half a second too early. The falcons really need to look into a game plan for stopping Tight Ends and Wide Receivers from getting into the middle of the field on crossing patterns next year. That is their teams biggest problem. At the same time, I must give credit to the 49ers defense who shut down the Falcons in the 2nd half, and to the running game of Frank Gore and Lamichael James. James is going to be something special next year , remember I said that. This was a hard fought game, and the 49ers should make the SuperBowl a well contested game no matter who they play. As for the Falcons, it’s better luck next year. I think they are here to stay with the combination of Julio Jones and Roddy White catching balls from Matt Ryan. And, it wouldn’t be the worst idea in the world to have Tony Gonzalez over for a nice dinner this offseason and try to entice him to stick around one more year. I personally think he should give it 1 more year to try to add a SuperBowl to his already stellar hall of fame career. With that said, lets watch Tom Brady do what Tom Brady does best. Win. Enjoy game 2 of this relaxing football Sunday!

Conference Championships Part 1

Originally Posted on : 1/19/13 @ 9:52 A.M.

Are you ready for some football?  Personally, I can’t wait for kickoff on Sunday!  I expect these games to be just as exciting as the games we had the privilege to watch last weekend.  I think both of these games are going to come down to the final drives and could be decided by a field goal or last second touchdown.  Everyone out there as you know pretty much has the same 2 picks: New England and San Francisco.  At the same time, I know some are trying to kinda sorda jump on the Ravens/Ray Lewis/Destiny bandwagon and say they have a shot, but I think the other game is going to be the nailbiter.  On the heels of this Michael Crabtree distraction I think that there is just going to be just too much pressure on Mr. Kaepernick.  Crabtree has turned into a nice little receiver and clearly is the 49ers best option no matter where he is on the field.  I have always been a Randy Moss fan, but let’s be real, he’s 35 going on 75, and he looks like he’s jogging through his routes and breaks.  But with Crabtree’s mind preoccupied with his newly found investigation, I think Kaepernick will have to keep this game on the ground.  Yes, I know everyone who is reading this is saying hey buddy Kaepernick only broke a rushing record last week for a qb, why can’t he do it again?  And yes, the 49ers do have a great running game even without Kaepernick running wild, but I just like the home team to at least carry a lead into the 4th quarter.  The combination of Julio Jones and Roddy White is going to be too much even for this stellar 49ers’ defense.  My only reservation is that their defense might fade down the strech like last week.  I foresee Kaepernick finally looking like a quarterback in his first year and throwing not 1 but 2 untimely picks.  I think the Falcons will employ a well designed game plan and bend but not break when it comes to Kaepernick running.  Now, I don’t mean any disrespect to Colin Kaepernick because he does have mountains of potential and clearly has the arm strength to be a pocket passer in the NFL.  I mean heck he could have been making millions in the MLB years ago.  I digress.  I just see him looking like a “rookie” this weekend at inoppurtune times.  Final score in Atlanta: 31-28 (Atlanta).  Check back later on today for my New England vs. Baltimore prediction.  Enjoy the games on Sunday!