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Adam Gold

The older, wiser brother prevailed

Posted February 4, 2013

There are a lot of reasons why the Baltimore Ravens are celebrating their second Super Bowl title in franchise history.

Joe Flacco was spectacular in backing up his claims at the beginning of the year that he belongs in the upper crust of NFL quarterbacks. Flacco is heading into his contract negotiations off an 11 touchdown, zero interception post season that included three first half scoring strikes in the Ravens' 34-31 win over the 49ers. He not only made no mistakes en route to being named the game's MVP, but he made some of his biggest plays when forced to improvise.

Baltimore's wide receivers, mainly 11-year veteran Anquan Boldin, were too much for the 49ers secondary. Boldin caught six passes for 104 yards and a touchdown, most of which came as the Ravens were building a 21-6 halftime lead. Throw in the greatest two minutes in the history of the Super Bowl by Jacoby Jones and we can really kick it up a notch. In the interest of accuracy, it was really the greatest 1:56 ever as Baltimore's receiver/kick returner hauled in a 56-yard touchdown pass with 1:45 left in the first half, then took the second half kickoff back 108 yards for a score just 11 seconds after intermission.

San Francisco certainly made more mistakes than the Ravens. LaMichael James' 2nd quarter fumble erased a momentum-building drive that saw the 49ers move from their own 20 to the Baltimore 24 in just four plays. Ten plays and 75 yards later, Baltimore had a 14-3 lead. Colin Kaepernick threw one interception – and was lucky to not have thrown a second – and while the Ravens didn't turn that into points thanks to John Harbaugh's curious decision to fake a short field goal, it started the field position chain of events that led to the Jones touchdown catch a couple of minutes before the half.

And, there were also a few very obvious missed calls by Jerome Boger's officiating crew that certainly could have impacted the game. In the interest of brevity, I'll only point to one. With the 49ers facing a third down and goal from the Ravens' 5-yard line Kaepernick threw into the right flat trying to hit Michael Crabtree. The pass was incomplete, partially because Crabtree couldn't hold on and partially because Baltimore defensive back Jimmy Smith crushed Crabtree with a helmet hit to the face mask. This is a penalty every single time in the NFL, except apparently on 3rd and goal with less than two minutes to play in the 4th quarter of the Super Bowl. I honestly don't know how you miss that, but so be it. I don't think the Niners lost to the Ravens because the officials missed that call – or any others for that matter.

No, I truly believe the difference was in the Harbaughs. John's team was clearly more ready, early. They played with more poise and greater focus, especially in the first half. And, in spite of that decision to fake the short field goal and have your kicker try to run to gain the nine necessary yards, John coached with a clearer head than did his little brother. It seemed to me that Jim tried to out-think the Dome after San Fran found itself with a 2nd and 2 from the Baltimore 9-yard line just before halftime. Trailing 21-3, and knowing that the Ravens were getting the second half kickoff, you really needed to stick the ball in the end zone. Yet Jim got a bit conservative and when Kaepernick's roll-out to the right produced nothing, they had to settle for a field goal and a 15-point, Beyonce break deficit.

The same happened at the end of the game, after the 49ers reached the Baltimore 7-yard line roughly two minutes after starting at their own 20. Kaepernick's legs were such a weapon in the post season, and they were again tonight, yet the first play was a give to James straight ahead for a 2-yard pick-up. Were the 49ers trying to score or run time off the clock? If you're running the ball up the middle, you had better be handing it to your best guy, Frank Gore, not the guy who fumbled the ball earlier in the game. Three plays later, the game was essentially over and the 49ers lack of success inside the 10-yard line was very much the reason why the Vince Lombardi Trophy is going back to Charm City.

It was a night that had just about everything. We saw a quarterback making a case for a big-money contract, costly turnovers, huge plays in the passing game, a 108-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, an unsuccessful fake field goal, an intentional safety, one replay reversal and a 34-minute blackout caused by a power surge not long after Beyonce and her, well, talented friends left the stage. However, my view is that even though John called his younger brother Jim, "the best coach in the NFL," I think the biggest difference was that the older brother wasn't ready to give in to the little kid, just yet.

Tonight, like the older brother he is, John gets to choose between the top or bottom bunk. Too bad he didn't give Jim a noogie during the post game handshake.

8 Comments

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  • Hokies94 Feb 6, 7:36 p.m.

    When you look at this game from an officiating standpoint, you would have to tell the truth and say that the 49ers didn't get the calls. It's a fact if you watched the game. Little brother will be back again.

  • Hokies94 Feb 6, 4:49 p.m.

    The 49ers have just about all of their players coming back. Colin is going to be a star one day. He has the skill set, leadership ability, and the intelligence to carry this team again. What he did in 10 games was outstanding.

  • GunnyGoesArrrgh Feb 5, 10:26 a.m.

    ^^^^^

    Meant to add "Panthers", but edit button wasn't working.

  • GunnyGoesArrrgh Feb 5, 10:23 a.m.

    ^^^^^
    Fox has always been a very conservative coach; it was one of the criticisms against him when he coached at Carolina.

  • Hokies94 Feb 4, 9:32 p.m.

    Young Jim has just begun as a Head Coach. Lessons of experiences will make him better. It takes time to develop a sound foundation and philiosphy. He knows the talent on this team, and the ones that haven't delivered this year. Fire those that haven't done the job. Draft the best out there. The Broncos weren't worth a darn until Manning came in. He should have called his own play when Fox didn't go for the 1st down. They could have been in this game in my humble opinion. One play changed this.

  • kornfan2448 Feb 4, 12:56 p.m.

    I think Jim is a really good head coach with the potential to be great. In his first year, he took a team that was 6-10 the year before and got them to 11-3 and within a botched special teams play from making the Super Bowl. He followed that up by getting to the Super Bowl in his second year and making a very gutsy QB change for a second year guy that few knew much about and he traded up in the previous draft to get. He had good success at Stanford with Luck as QB, who is a pocket passer. He done a great job with Colin, who is a completely different style QB than Luck. I think that shows adversity and ability to adapt, which is crucial as an NFL coach, as the game is always changing. Has to sting though to lose to your big brother on Thanksgiving and then the Super Bowl.

  • PanthersFan45 Feb 4, 12:11 p.m.

    I didn't really care 1 way or the other who won, but I was leaning Baltimore. Its debatable as to who is wiser, they are both good coaches and have had great success. Johns been a coach most of his career since he didn't make it in the the NFL. Jim (being a former NFL QB) has experience working with a head coach and calling plays ... I think's he's learned a thing or two.

  • GunnyGoesArrrgh Feb 4, 7:50 a.m.

    This Super Bowl had plenty of plays for the highlight reel, and if you're San Fran, there will be plenty of examples of missed opportunities. And any discussion of missed opportunities should include that obvious holding call that wasn't called. That said, I'm glad John is the Harbaugh bringing home the Lombardi.

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