Friday, February 8, 2013

The Super Bowl Timeline: Part I

If 200,000+ people in downtown Baltimore on a cold gray Tuesday afternoon is any indication, we're not quite ready to let this moment pass. Let's keep the party going with a purple stained Super Bowl timeline. We've got Jim Nantz and Phil Simms on the call. Hopefully Nantz has gotten over Tom Brady not making it and the fact that the only time he's going to be calling Ray Lewis' name is at the end of 8 yard runs by Frank Gore. Sorry Jim, but this game is going to be decided by two quarterbacks who no one thought would be here and guys who do the dirty work like Dennis Pitta, Vernon Davis, Dannell Ellerbe and Navorro Bowman. It's the "We're Here . . . Who We Are is Unclear . . . Get Used to it!!!" Super Bowl.

Pregame: It's got to be a good omen when you have a Hall of Fame inductee at the coin toss right? Apparently it is as the Ravens win it, defer their choice to the second half and then immediately bolt for the sideline as referee Jerome Bogar tries to get them back for some more instruction. With that, Bogar sets the Super Bowl record for shortest amount of time it took to lose control of a game.

15:00 - Not the start the Ravens were looking for as Vernon Davis (who is going to be a nightmare for them to cover) makes a 20 yard catch and . . . wait, there's a flag for an illegal formation which becomes a net 25 yard penalty. Jim Harbaugh just snapped one of his molars in half.

Those are the ones. Do
they come in a 40" waist?
13:55 - We just got our first good look at Jim's pants. If there wasn't such a thing as "Mom Khakis" before, then there is now. He will now be known in the FGR as either "J.C. Penney" or "Coldwater Creek." Let's play around with it and see which one sticks.

12:59 - Joe Flacco checks-down to Vontae Leach for 8 yards. Three years ago he would have gotten to his second read and then bailed by drilling a cast member from NCIS: Los Angeles in the second row.

11:52 - The Ravens throw on first down again for a gain of 20. In Cam Cameron's defense, he used to try this same game plan but it often failed where it is clicking under Jim Caldwell. History tells us that is not a coincidence.*

10:47 - Flacco does a great job of avoiding the sack and throwing the ball away. Two months ago that would have been a strip sack scoring opportunity for the 49ers but what we are seeing now is the Flacco who scored on a 38 yard touchdown run in the first game of his NFL career seasoned with five years of experience and criticism. In the words of Vince Vaughn in Swingers, "our baby's all growns up."

10:42 - Another big penalty against the 49ers gives the Ravens a second shot on 3rd down. The Ravens and the 49ers are two of the most penalized teams in the league. So much for clean play being part of the recipe for success.

10:36 - Flacco hits Boldin for a 14 yard touchdown pass that looks strikingly familiar. I just watched it four times and, just like against the Patriots, it's not that Boldin isn't at least partially covered, it's that Flacco puts the ball right where it needs to be and Boldin just tears it out of the sky.

Did I miss the scene in Eyes Wide
Shut
where they take their masks
off and start playing quarters?
Commercial Break: The first commercial is for something called Budweiser Black Crown. The stupidity of the commercial is only outweighed by the stupidity of the product. First of all, a Budweiser isn't supposed to be "smooth and distinctive." It's supposed to be served in a giant plastic cup, taste like sandpaper when you start drinking it and then get worse from there. Secondly, I'm pretty sure that if parties with models dancing on long tables actually exist, no one there is drinking beer.

10:30 - Frank Gore gets stuffed on an inside run and we have our first scrap of the night. We're not even five minutes in and this game already has Ron Artest at the Palace potential.

8:15 - Colin Kaepernick runs straight-up the middle for 9 yards on 3rd and 2. That play never would have happened if Ray Lewis was still alive.

6:35 - Gore runs for another first down as the Niners are jamming it right down the Ravens' throats. It's almost enough to make me miss Tony Siragusa.

5:58 - Kaepernick to Davis moves the ball to the 8 yard line. The worst fears of all Ravens fans are being realized on this drive as the Niners are overpowering and out-quicking their defense. Gene Hackman needs to call a timeout and give the "maybe they were right about us!" speech.

4:26 - Kaepernick evades Terrell Suggs like he's not even there but then Ed Reed comes flying out of nowhere to get a shot on him as he releases the pass forcing it high to Crabtree. By my calculation, that's the 173rd big play of Reed's postseason career.

4:22 - Kruuuuuuugggggggeeeeeeer. The guy who will be standing right behind Flacco at the ATM this offseason makes a huge play blowing around the right tackle for the sack. The 49ers had three plays from the 8 yard line and ran it up the middle with Gore and then had Kaepernick drop straight back to pass twice. Man I hope that if the game is on the line in the 4th quarter, they run that same sequence.

"Damn you Ed Reed
and your unorthodox
zone blitz gambit!"
3:55 - They just showed Ed Reed jogging to the locker room which alarms everyone but Ravens fans who see this at least once per game. No one really knows what he does while he's in there but I'm pretty sure he plays on-line chess against Garry Kasparov while the offense is on the field so he doesn't get bored.

3:43 - Flacco drops from the 22 yard line all the way back to the 8 and then lobs an out pass to the 30 which is caught by Dennis Pitta. That throw was either really gutsy or really stupid but, considering the run that Flacco is on right now, we've got to go with gutsy right?

2:20 - Hey look, Ed Reed is back. Just a warning to the fans of his new team, you will have no idea what Ed is going to do or say next and I'm not sure he does either. Just go with it.

1:23 - The 49ers go with an all-out blitz on 3rd and 7 forcing Flacco to roll right and throw it away off his back foot. I literally say "damn" while the ball is in the air because I thought they had some momentum there but . . . HOLY CRAP . . . Boldin catches it for a 31 yard gain. That was absurd. At some point this season, someone for the Ravens clearly made the observation that throwing to Boldin when he is single-covered is always an option because one of two things is going to happen: (a) he's going to catch it or (b) he is going to perform some medieval act on the defensive back to make sure it's not intercepted.

0:17 - Phil Simms points-out that Chris Culliver commits a blatant illegal contact penalty on Torrey Smith that is not called. Keep that in mind for later. In an unrelated story, all of Culliver's teammates call him "Psycho."

0:12 - Flacco looks like the old Flacco as he somehow fails to sense that there is about a ton of humanity closing in around him and he gets swallowed-up by the defense. It was nice of the old Flacco to stop-by but hey . . . look at the time.

2nd Quarter

15:00 - The sack takes the Ravens out of field goal range so super reliable punter, Sam Koch, comes in and promptly boots it one yard deep in the end zone for a net of 22 yards. Based on their post-season performances, it would appear that Flacco and Koch visited a witch doctor and had some sort of karmic cross-transplant performed.

14:44 - Too much time for Kaepernick and he throws a strike to Vernon Davis for 29 yards. Davis is killing the Ravens. How funny would it be if the Ravens lost because a Maryland Terrapin became the first tight end to win Super Bowl MVP? Ha ha fuckin' ha.

14:00 - Davis again for another first down and more shoving. We are on a collision course with a significant fracas at this point. If this were a high school game, the refs would be pulling the teams together and telling everyone to chill (and then the Harbaughs would both tell their players, "screw that . . . keep hitting!").

12:40 - Another first down after two runs up the middle. The 49ers are doing whatever they want on offense. At this point, I almost want them to score so the defense can get off the field.

11:53 - Bam! Huge break for the Ravens as LeMichael James puts it on the carpet. I'd be very wary about having Oregon players in major roles during a big game because they've never won one in college. In a related story, the over/under on the Chip Kelly era in Philadelphia is two brutal years.

Commercial Break: Doritos is trying too hard.
Wait for it, wait for it . . . and then
when the second guy tries to sell
the goat . . . don't you love it?

10:50 - Bernard Pierce gets a first down on three runs. It will be interesting to see how Ray Rice handles being a third down back next year. Just kidding Ray (sort of).

9:09 - Wow . . . an Ed Dickson sighting. I take back what I said about players from Oregon. Always good to hear from the guy taken 44 picks ahead of Dennis Pitta in the 2010 draft (and 25 picks ahead of Jimmy Graham . . . ugh, please pass the ball-peen hammer).

8:03 - Dickson again down to the 8 yard line plus a face mask penalty on Donte Whitner. They don't show it but I assume that J.C. Penney is having a tantrum over that call. Speaking of which, here is a previously unreleased video of the 49ers coach driving to the game with his family.

7:10 - Flacco goes with the hard play action fake (which I much prefer over his half-assed play action fake) and then throws a dart to Dennis Pitta for the score. Speaking of the 2010 draft, Pitta went seventy-two picks after Rob Gronkowski and one pick after Aaron Hernandez . . . in case you were wondering.

Commercial Break: I'm pretty sure that a list of people who still eat Cheese Whiz and a list of people who still watch Survivor would look pretty similar.

7:00 - Kaepernick just changed the play at the line of scrimmage and then threw a perfect strike to Ed Reed. I'm guessing that Coldwater Creek will kindly inform him that he would have preferred the original play.

That really tain't where
you want your head.
6:55 - Oh boy now we've got a developing situation. On the freeze frame, I count 19 players, 5 officials and John Harbaugh in a full-blown scrum. (Fortunately, Harbaugh avoids a "Van Gundy" and stays on his feet). Oh wait, there were six officials. I missed the one that Cary Williams shoved out of the screen. He's really taking his non-ejection gracefully, jumping around and dropping f-bombs. I'd be running to hide behind the bench like a guy who just blew past a cop tries to hide in traffic (at least, as a non-speeder, that's what I assume guys do after blowing past cops).

4:30 - Flacco is doing what he has done all season. Taking a turnover and marching right down the field to make the other team pay. I'm not sure he's made a bad throw since the pick six at the end of the first half against the Broncos in Week 15. Can we revisit the Matt Ryan v. Joe Flacco debate when we get a chance?

3:17 - Boldin just dropped a pass that was right in his hands. In a related story, Jamarcus Russell somewhere just asked the waitress for a gluten-free menu. Two things you are not likely to see (the sign of a good joke is one you have to explain right?).

3:12 - A weak fade pass leads to 4th and 9. 17-3 is going to look pretty good going into halftime. Sweet Jesus they just tried a fake by having their kicker run to Patrick Willis' side of the field and came-up a yard short. You've got to believe that play was hatched about twelve years ago when John Harbaugh was a special teams coach and thought, "if I ever make it to the Super Bowl as a head coach, you know what I'm going to do?"

Commercial Break: That was the supposedly offensive Volskwagon ad with the white guy from Minnesota doing the Rastafarian accent? I'm sorry but wasn't the point of the ad that everyone loves the Rasta outlook or did I misinterpret that? It reminds me of a classic Nick Depalo line. "I love the way Italians are portrayed on the Sopranos. If you want to complain about the way Italians are portrayed on TV,  let's start with the Olive Garden commercials."

2:31 - Cary Williams had Kaepernick picked-off and dropped it. Randy Moss gave up on that play some time during the National Anthem.

"See . . . I told you they had the
best marinara sauce in Topeka."
2:11 - Every time Jacoby Jones bobbles a punt, I am that much more thankful that he caught that pass against the Broncos and this is one of those times. If he had hands, he could be . . . um . . . Randy Moss?

2:03 - Torrey Smith just climbed over Culliver's back trying to make a catch. Culliver tells him to get that "sweet stuff" outta here.

1:45 - Right on cue Jacoby Jones catches a Flacco bomb, jukes one defender and then outraces Culliver into the endzone. The only person having a worse week than Culliver is the guy in charge of the Superdome power supply, only he doesn't know it yet.

Commercial Break: Does the guy who wrote Cocoon get paid every time old people act crazy in a commercial?

1:15 - The 49ers have another drive going when Haloti Ngata gives them a free 15 yards by hammering Kaepernick way after the ball is gone. This strategy works against Tom Brady but Kaepernick is a different breed. I'm afraid it might just be pissing him off.

0:52 - Kaepernick throws ANOTHER great mid-range ball. This one is caught by Delaney Walker at the 17 yard line. Nantz comments that he's got one of the strongest arms he's ever seen and I can't disagree. Two guys with rifles attached to their shoulders in this game. Meanwhile, Alex Smith is glazing his right bicep with deer antler juice.

0:21 - They just showed the replay of J.C. Penney on the sideline having a caniption fit over the call that Walker was touched down on the previous play . . . which he clearly was. (As much as I wanted it to be "Coldwater Creek," "J.C. Penney" just has a better ring to it).

0:12 - The Ravens string-out Kaepernick's roll-out attempt and force a field goal. Nantz points out that 21-6 is the same score that the Colts came back from to beat the Patriots in the 2006 AFC Championship Game. I guess he's got to do something to get the Downton Abbey fans back for the second half. Jerk.

(To be continued).

Endnote

* Consider the career paths of Jim Caldwell and Cam Cameron. Caldwell was Tony Dungy's longtime assistant, won a Super Bowl in that role, inherited a team with Peyton Manning, got back to the Super Bowl as a head coach and then won another ring as the offensive coordinator of the Ravens.

No one wants to buy your
game plan here Camy.
Meanwhile, Cam Cameron spent five years watching the Chargers gag away title chances under Marty Schottenheimer, finally got his head coaching gig with the Miami Dolphins and went 1-15 starting (with the likes of John Beck and Cleo Lemon at quarterback) before being fired, was hired as offensive coordinator of the Ravens, should have won a ring last year but didn't and then was fired with three games left in what would end-up being a Super Bowl winning season. Ouch.