A not-so-special Super Bowl edition of First and 10, observed while watching TV like the rest of humanity … it was a game that showed there really is no limit to “lights out” jokes on Twitter on a random Sunday night.
1) Holding or no holding? That is the question. Yes, Michael Crabtree probably was held on San Francisco’s final pass, and yes Jim Harbaugh had a point – though his sideline demonstration was a bit over the top. Jimmy Smith definitely grabbed Crabtree two yards into the end zone, and that makes it either illegal contact or a hold. Much less has been flagged. But Sunday night’s refs were hardly “aggressive” in the way they called the game. They let a lot of stuff go, including letting one of the Ravens shove one of them. There was chippy stuff all game long, and there were two or three plays where it looked like pass interference could have been called. In the vernacular, the refs let them play. So on the final play, they did the same. At least they were consistent.
2) San Francisco can lament the refs, but its final three plays are wide open to second guesses. For one, they didn’t work. For two, with Randy Moss and Vernon Davis on the field, the 49ers threw three times to the same guy – Crabtree – on the same (right) side of the field. On one Colin Kaepernick rolled out, taking away half the field. On the others he threw quickly. Baltimore had something to do with that approach, as it went all-out blitz on first, third and fourth downs, which meant the 49ers couldn’t run and Kaepernick had to throw in a hurry. Still, the 49ers had a very clever run play they used to score in the third quarter, a misdirection that left Frank Gore an easy path to the end zone. They could have used another clever call like that in the fourth quarter, on the drive that meant the most.
3) Maybe I missed it … did Ray Lewis even play? Or did he show up just to look all mean in that face paint? Was his name announced once other than by the adoring broadcast media that seems to worship his every step? Players respect the way Lewis plays, which is all well and good, but count me among the many sick of his schtick. I suppose it’s nice to believe God cares who wins a football game. Me, I think God might be more interested in what led to the deaths of two young Akron men in Atlanta 13 years ago.
4) It never takes long for a gambling site to post odds on the next season’s champion, so a side called BovadaLV has determined that Denver and San Francisco are co-favorites to win the 2014 Super Bowl. Odds: 7-1. Cincinnati is 35-1, the Browns 66-1. Yes, 66-1. They’re ahead of four teams: Tennessee, Buffalo, Oakland and Jacksonville. So, there’s that.
5) The ref who didn’t throw Baltimore’s Cary Williams out of the game for shoving him swallowed his integrity. A two-handed shove of a ref and the guy plays on? What a joke. Then after the game Williams said the 49ers were dirty. Nice. Guy shoves a ref with both hands and then calls the other team dirty.
6) Pittsburgh linebacker James Harrison posted this on his Facebook page on Monday: “Congratulations to the Baltimore Ravens. Thanks for keep(ing) us (The Pittsburgh Steelers) as the only team with 6 rings.” One commenter asked Harrison if Roger Goodell had fined him for the power outage. Which seemed funny when I read it.
7) Dear fans of any team that may need a quarterback, and yes you know who you are: Joe Flacco isn’t going anywhere. Don’t start dreaming of signing him as a free agent. He is a Raven, he will be a Raven and he won’t not be a Raven. This isn’t Neil O’Donnell or Trent Dilfer we’re talking about here. Repeat: Joe Flacco is not going anywhere.
8) This would be the third year in a row and the fourth time in six years that a team that played in the wild-card round won the Super Bowl — Baltimore, Green Bay and the Giants twice. Which proves that the hot team and the hot quarterback win.
9) Hitting on a quarterback sure can be hit and miss. Flacco now is all that, and the Ravens took him in the draft after Kyle Boller failed. But the exact same system and method of evaluation was used to assess those two quarterbacks. Sometimes teams just can’t predict a guy’s personality, especially under serious scrutiny and expectations. Boller was a walking bundle of nerves. Flacco at times appears as close to dead as a person can while living.
10) Either Pittsburgh or Baltimore has been in the Super Bowl in two of the last three seasons. One of those teams has represented the AFC in three of the last five. The last three seasons one of those teams has been in the AFC Championship Game. Which again shows the old news that the Browns have a long way to go to match the best of the best.