The Baltimore Ravens won the Super Bowl on Sunday. Good for them.
And yes, it was a very exciting game. One of the best Super Bowls ever. Long pass plays, a 108-yard kick return, fake field goals, even a power outage. Final score, 34-31. Great theater.
But did the best team win? Were the Ravens the best team?
But that doesn’t matter. They won. They were outmanned and yet they still won. In fact, saying they were not the best team on the field is the highest compliment I can pay them.
Hey, this isn’t sour grapes. The losing San Francisco 49ers aren’t my favorite team, although I was rooting for them. It’s just the truth. Sometimes the best team doesn’t win. And there’s nothing worse you can say about a football team than they were better but choked it away.
Why do I say the Niners were, are, better? Let me start by listing off some of the critical mistakes and dumb plays San Francisco made:
* Opening drive, first play, an illegal formation penalty wipes out a 20-yard gain. In other words, some guy simply lined up wrong. (Baltimore wound up getting good field position and scoring on their first drive as a result.)
* The reason Baltimore got good field position is that San Francisco, on 3rd and 11, amazingly, didn’t pass the ball. They ran a draw up the middle which didn’t work.
* On that 1st Baltimore scoring drive, the Ravens benefitted when on 3rd and long a San Francisco lineman jumped offside for no reason, causing 3rd down to be replayed, and Baltimore scored a touchdown rather than a field goal. Cost SF 4 points.
* LaMichael James lost a LaFumble because he carried it out in space with only one LaHand. Rookie mistake. The Niners were on the verge of scoring when he LaFumbled. (At which point I yelled “LaCrap!”)
* SF’s brilliant young quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, threw a critical interception. Rival QB Joe Flacco threw none.
* SF’s defensive ends routinely let Flacco escape outside containment (an amateur’s mistake) and extend plays long enough to complete huge passes downfield.
* SF allowed a record 108-yard kick return to start the 2nd half. Allowed it quite half-heartedly I might add. (I’ve seen better tackling at a bikini-clad girls’ mud wrestling contest.)
* SF allowed the Ravens’ Jacoby Jones to get FIVE YARDS behind the secondary on 3rd and 10 for a 60-yard touchdown. Inexcusable. (Why do teams let Jacoby Jones routinely run uncovered several yards beyond their safeties? Huh? Why, Denver, Why???)
* SF did yet another 3rd and 10 draw play in the 3rd quarter with Frank Gore, deep in their own territory, which didn’t work and led directly to great Baltimore field position and a Baltimore score.
* SF called several dry worthless runs on 1st down all game….they did not play aggressively (which is to say correctly) until they were behind 28 to 6.
* SF coach Jim Harbaugh called a very conservative and silly game. He held his team in check with his own play-calling. His brother John totally out-coached him….
* In fact, SF was very dry and conservative in their play calling until they fell behind 28-6. At which point their superior firepower was unleashed and they came roaring back, nearly pulling off the biggest comeback in Super Bowl history….
* On the final drive of the game, inside the 10 yard line with 1st and goal, SF called 4 of the dumbest plays you ever saw.
* On one of those plays they had to burn a time-out because the clock was winding down. This proved critical, because when SF got the ball back after that final drive they had no time left on the clock. Plus, that play which never was completed due to the time out, was a misdirection Kaepernick run which looked like it had a great chance to spring wide open. Instead, after the blown time out, they called two more dumb plays which had little chance of success.
* In other words, the Niners played one of their worst games of the year and did everything in this game they could possibly do to not only lose, but to get blown out….
….despite all this,
the San Francisco 49ers only lost the game by three lousy points!
Baltimore basically made one mistake all night, a Ray Rice fumble. While San Francisco had all those many mistakes listed above. The fact that Frisco only lost by three, after playing such a lousy game, says it all.
Best team lost. They’re just going to have to live with it.
meet….The Sports Philosopher!
Brad Eastland is an author, an historian, a film buff, an undiscovered literary savant, and a big fan of the glorious history of the Super Bowl. Brad’s other recent columns for La Verne Online can be found in the Sports Section under ‘The Sports Philosopher’ and also in Viewpoint under ‘Brad Eastland’s View’. His columns on very old and very underappreciated movies can be found by clicking Arts & Entertainment, then clicking ’Upon Further Review’. Brad has also written 4 fine novels* and over 20 short-stories.
*Brad has a new book out. It’s called “L.A. JOURNAL”, a collection of stories about Los Angeles. To pick up a copy simply search for that title in both hardback and paperback on amazon.com, iUniverse.com, or bn.com. And then order it. And then READ it. And then tell everyone about it. And then read it again. And then post your praise on Facebook. For all this and all your support he thanks you…..