Ray Lewis’ career ended while protecting his goal line. After 17 years of keeping offenses from penetrating his end zone, the linebacker would have it no other way.
The Ravens topped the 49ers, 34-31, last night in Super Bowl XLVII, and Lewis walked into a confetti-filled sunset with his second championship. The anticipated retirement march concluded at the Superdome, where a wild, controversial week ended in bliss.
“What better way to go out?” Lewis said. “I was tested through this journey. It was an up-and-down roller coaster, the injuries, the people, and we stayed together.”
Lewis was the only Raven standing from Baltimore’s victory in Super Bowl XXXV. As he walked out the door, he left with first-time champions such as safety Ed Reed, linebacker Terrell Suggs, defensive tackle Haloti Ngata and MVP quarterback Joe Flacco.
Lewis wasn’t a defensive demon in the game, amassing seven tackles (four solo), but the chance to close it out on a defensive series, particularly after the 49ers raced up and down the field throughout the second half, was harmonious for an organization that is as old as Lewis’ career.
“It’s unbelievable,” Flacco said. “Ray is a great person, and everyone knows he’s an unbelievable football player, but he’s the best teammate. It’s unbelievable to send him out like this. The reason for that is he just wanted us all to feel what it feels like to win this thing.”
The 49ers appeared completely harmless while falling behind 28-6, but they scored on four consecutive possessions in the second half. They failed to tie the game after Colin Kaepernick’s two-point conversion pass to Randy Moss sailed through the end zone. And when they attempted to take the lead in the final two minutes, Kaepernick’s last three tosses from the 5-yard line hit the turf.
“We love Ray,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “There is no way our guys would ever want to have Ray not go out just like this.”
Offensive linemen, cornerbacks and officiating crews never want to be mentioned during a game. Add stadiums to that list, too.
The game came to a 34-minute halt last night when the power went out at the Superdome. To make matters more difficult, it happened less than two minutes into the second half. So, after a half-hour break that included Beyonce’s concert, the players had to occupy themselves on the field for even more time, though the uncertainty of the episode was even more frustrating.
There was little information passed along, and the building warmed up when the air-conditioning system went down. The fans found some time to cheer back and forth at one another while also starting the wave, but they didn’t hesitate to boo the public address system when it provided vague updates.
The winners made light of the unforeseen in-game hurdle, while the losers just tried to change the subject. If anything, though, the 49ers were the beneficiaries of the outage, because they ripped off 17 consecutive points after it.
“I think it was Beyonce,” Ravens cornerback Corey Graham said. “She did so much, she blew the power out.”
Hold it a second
Niners coach Jim Harbaugh was livid after the game because he believed Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith should have been called for holding or pass interference against wide receiver Michael Crabtree during the most pivotal play of the game.
Smith jammed Crabtree at the line on fourth-and-goal from the 5 and clutched him in the end zone when the ball was in the air. The ball fell incomplete with 1:46 remaining, and the 49ers never ran another offensive play.
“There was no question in my mind that there was pass interference,” the San Francisco coach said.
Ngata left the game in the second half with a knee injury, and he wasn’t sure yet if anything was torn.
Jeff Howe - Boston Herald (MCT)
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