• Super Bowl XLVII

Ravens survive late onslaught to win it all

ESPN staff
February 4, 2013
Jacoby Jones returned a kick-off 108 yards for a touchdown to start the second half © Getty Images

The San Francisco 49ers nearly pulled off the biggest comeback in Super Bowl history on Sunday, but instead the Baltimore Ravens held on to win a thrilling contest 34-31 in New Orleans.

The Ravens held a seemingly insurmountable 28-6 advantage after Jacoby Jones started the second half with a 108-yard kick-off return but - perhaps aided by a 34-minute delay after power went out in sections of the Superdome - the 49ers produced a remarkable turnaround to ultimately leave quarterback Colin Kaepernick with five minutes to produce a game-winning touchdown.

Kaepernick - aided by running back Frank Gore - moved his team to within ten yards of that decisive score but, after a four-down stand by the long-admired Ravens defense, coach John Harbaugh's side held on to secure a tense victory over brother Jim's heartbroken team.

"It's never pretty, it's never perfect - but it is us," John Harbaugh said afterwards. "And that was us today.

"[Greeting Jim after the match] was the hardest thing I have ever done. I told him I loved him."

Ravens quarterback, and MVP, Joe Flacco added: "It's unbelievable. We don't make it easy, but that's the way the city of Baltimore is and that's the way this team is.

"We can't wait to get back there for that parade."

The game never looked like being so close when Jones - born in New Orleans - tied the Super Bowl record for the longest kick-off return for a touchdown in the very first play of the second half, giving his side a 22-point advantage.

In Super Bowl history, the biggest deficit a winner had ever previously overcome was a mere 10 points.

The Ravens had taken advantage of some nervy play from Kaepernick in the first half to get there. Wide receiver Anquan Boldin scored the game's opening touchdown with a 13-yard reception from eventual MVP Flacco, before David Akers kicked a field goal to reduce the 49ers' deficit to 7-3.

Dennis Pitta - from one yard - and Jones - from 56 - moved the scoreboard to 21-3, before Akers again added three points at the end of the half after San Francisco had missed a crucial opportunity to get their first touchdown.

After a short interval to take in Beyonce's half-time show, Jones then produced his remarkable return to create fears of a blowout finish. But a subsequent power cut - that lasted almost half an hour - seemed to change the energy of the contest, as San Francisco came roaring back.

It was Kaepernick, recovering from an earlier interception, who led the charge - finding Michael Crabtree for a 31-yard touchdown before moving his side back up the field for Frank Gore to run another home from six yards shortly after.

Akers then added a third field goal - but only after a missed first attempt was erased by a foul - to make the score 28-23 as the fourth quarter began.

Crucially, Baltimore responded with a field goal of their own - before the increasingly dominant Kaepernick ran in from 15 yards to leave the scoreline 31-29, as the 49ers failed with a two-point conversion attempt they had little option but to take on.

Another field goal for the Ravens restored their five-point cushion, but also left the 49ers with five minutes to win the match. But, despite getting within touching distance of the endzone, that comeback-completing moment would not come as two Kaepernick passes eluded Crabtree.

The Ravens then took possession and wound down the clock, before taking a safety with nine seconds remaining to erase as much time as possible. That gave the 49ers one last chance at a thrilling ending - but Ted Ginn Jr was unable to emulate Jones as his kick-out return was eventually brought down - and with it the Ravens won the Vince Lombardi trophy.

The win was a fitting end for future Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Lewis, playing in his final game as a professional.

"There's no greater way to go out on your last ride than with the men I went out with," the 37-year-old Lewis said. "You look at this stadium and ... Baltimore - we're coming home. We did it!"

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