SLAM Presents TD: Special Super Bowl Issue is on sale now! In it, we took every Super Bowl winner and ranked them in order of greatness. Example: If the ’85 Bears played the ’75 Steelers, who would win? That team is higher. We’re counting them down from 47-1; next up, the 2012 Baltimore Ravens.—Ed.
No. 44: Baltimore Ravens, Super Bowl XLVII
- Date: February 3, 2013
- Game MVP: Joe Flacco
- Record: 12-4
The 2012 Ravens blended right in to a new era of Super Bowl champions, one where the last team standing is no longer the best team on paper but instead the hottest team in January and February.
Plenty of things didn’t go quite as planned for this Baltimore team from the outset of the season. Top pass rusher Terrell Suggs tore his Achilles tendon in the offseason, raising doubt as to whether the defense would be up to par. Art Modell, the former team owner and the man who moved the franchise to Baltimore, passed away just before the start of the season, leaving the franchise and its fans feeling heavyhearted.
As the season went along, the hits kept coming, especially on defense. Ray Lewis, the team’s emotional leader, and Lardarius Webb, one of the best cornerbacks in the league, both went down with injuries in mid-October.
Things didn’t go as expected on offense, either. The talk in the offseason was that offensive coordinator Cam Cameron was turning the reins over to quarterback Joe Flacco. For a team so long defined by its defense, this kind of talk had previously been nothing more than an annual act of lip service, with the offense always eventually deciding to instead rely on a steady diet of power running and just enough scoring.
The first week of the season saw Baltimore break out its much talked about no-huddle attack, but the high-powered offense wasn’t around to stay and inconsistency reigned. A nine-point performance against Kansas City in Week 5 was followed by 31 points against a Dallas the following week. The Ravens put up 55 points against a bad Oakland defense, but then managed just 29 points over their next two games against Pittsburgh and San Diego, two non-playoff teams.
As it had been for much of his career, Flacco took a solid share of the blame, along with Cameron. Some of it fell on Ray Rice, too, who, after establishing himself as one of the best running backs in the league over his first four seasons, saw his level of production drop in his first year without a veteran complimentary back. All this led to a month-long swoon for the Ravens, and the eventual late-season firing of Cameron.
For these Ravens, however, everything changed once the playoffs began. After making a miraculous comeback from injury (we’ll get to that), Lewis announced the playoffs would be his “last ride” and that the season, his 17th in the league, would be his last. The desire to win “another one” for the greatest player in franchise history no doubt helped get the Ravens into gear.
A second motivator came into play as well: Flacco’s contract situation. After the Ravens passed on re-upping him before the season, Flacco was looking at unrestricted free agency in the offseason. He played like a man out to get every dollar possible and had one of the best postseason runs in league history, putting up 11 touchdowns without throwing an interception in the Ravens’ four postseason games.
As for the game itself, Super Bowl XLVII was marked by bizarre circumstances, starting during media week when Sports Illustrated published a report saying Lewis used products that contained banned substances, including deer antler spray. While Lewis categorically denied using any performance enhancing drugs, saying he’d never failed a test, the story nonetheless raised questions about his comeback.
Once the game finally kicked off, Baltimore got off to a hot start, with Flacco picking apart the San Francisco 49ers’ defense. The Ravens jumped out to a 28-6 lead when Jacoby Jones took the second half kickoff back for a touchdown.
Then, the lights went out.
Half of New Orleans’ Superdome went dark just after that touchdown return, and it remained that way for more than a half hour. Once the lights finally flickered back on, all the momentum Baltimore had gathered went out the door and the 49ers stormed back into the game. Colin Kaepernick led the Niners to 17 straight points and on a 23-2 run to pull them to within two points.
In the end, though, the Ravens were able to hang on just long enough to get out of New Orleans with a victory, and to allow Ray Lewis to dance off the field for one final time, Lombardi trophy in hand.
To see the full countdown, click here.