For awhile there it looked like the most exciting part of the night was going to be Beyonce and a power outage. In fact, those two things might have still been the most exciting parts of the night but the Super Bowl itself turned out pretty well.
It’s fun watching a game like that when you have no rooting interest, although by the end I think I was pulling for the Niners. You get to enjoy the great plays and bizarre decisions without worrying that your heart is going to be ripped out at the same time. The 49ers really hurt themselves a few times. Start with the first play of the game, an illegal formation penalty that negated a long gain. You’re preparing two weeks for the game — and do coaches still script their first 15 plays or did that go out? — and you line up incorrectly? Then a penalty gave Baltimore another chance after the Niners had stopped the Ravens on their first drive. Flacco threw a TD. The big fumble by James. Then, finally, the strange playcalling from the 5-yard line.
My first complaint: The player intros. Which are no longer player intros. Thanks to the 2001 Patriots the teams now all come out together, because, you know, they’re a TEAM! Football! Team game! The NFL dictates rules about players socks. But they can’t make teams get introduced? Imagine the ’90s Bulls pulling this and instead of getting the greatest intros ever with “Your Chicago Bulls,” and the lights and music and Ray Clay, we get Jordan and Pippen going, “Guys, no. Kill the lights. Scott Williams and Will Perdue, we’re all being introduced as one!”
TV: What’s not to get? I mean, it’s not like NFL players like to draw attention to themselves. Wait …
The biggest revelation from my viewing: That I probably won’t really get to watch another Super Bowl for 18 years. That’s when the last of my four kids will (maybe) be out of the house. We had to institute a no iPad policy in the opening minutes because the competing noise was becoming unbearable. I changed countless diapers – the acrid smell of baby poop overpowered anything we cooked – and missed several plays.
That said, the last play call was putrid. The 49ers had three chances to cover a total of five yards to win the Super Bowl. They had at their disposal a massive and sometimes dominant offensive line, two running backs with different assets, a beastly tight ends, good receivers and – most of all – a massive, fast, young quarterback. And they used their last bullet on a one-option play – a fade to averaged-sized Michael Crabtree. Yes, the Ravens blitzed as the Niners expected, but there HAS to be a better way to go than that.
Nonetheless, Baltimore should have won. Not because God wanted them to, as Ray Lewis opined, but because they were rolling when the lights went out. For the outcome to have changed on a power outage would have been the worst thing to happen to the NFL in a season filled with regrettable moments.
FURY: I’m going to disagree slightly on the power outage. These teams were even. We thought that going in and the end result proved it. It’s impossible to prove, but I think San Francisco would have eventually started rolling even if the lights stay on (just as it’s impossible to prove the outage is what deflated the Ravens). Immediately after the outage, the Niners failed on 3rd and long and punted. No doubt it came at a better time for the Niners; I just think they would have turned it around eventually anyway. But perhaps not so dramatically.
The worst part of the outage was it gave us 30 more minutes of the CBS studio crew. My favorite part was Bill Cowher telling Jim Harbaugh he should think about sitting Kaepernick for Alex Smith. It was a ludicrous statement even before Kaepernick started dominating in the second half. Yeah, he had the bad INT in the first half but he wasn’t the one giving up the long pass plays to Flacco and the Ravens. Lucky for the Niners, Harbaugh ignored the advice.
Flacco obviously deserved his MVP. An incredible postseason that was as good as anything by legends like Brady and Montana. He does seem to get away with an inordinate number of lob passes — against the Patriots and in the Super Bowl — but he’s a great quarterback.
Biggest upset for me: I somehow fought off the omnipresent KFC Game Day Bucket Go Boom ads and did not walk up to my local restaurant for a big bucket of chicken.
TV: I was almost impressed with CBS in that sense that I can’t believe it continues to be so lackluster and/or downright bad despite having NFL rights on and off for a long time.
I, too, missed the KFC commercial. The first time I saw it, I failed to recognize the magnificence of the catchphrase because I thought the girl saying it was an actress from the Hannah Montana TV show. And, yes, I miss that show.
Related note: Can’t say too many commercials stuck with me from this year’s game. I appreciated the cross-dressing Doritos bit as the father of three daughters. And the Go Daddy makeout scene will be hard to forget because it prompted my 9-year-old to ask, “Why did it sound like that when they were kissing?” Yes, Go Daddy, why did it have to sound like that? Gross.
There’s no doubt that Twitter has stolen the show away from the commercials when it comes to comedy bang for the buck. I wish I had kept better track of all the tweets that made me LOL. And I really did LOL to the point that my Twitter-less wife got after me for not sharing the jokes quickly enough. Beyonce provided plenty of good material, although most of it was largely the same and largely, ahem, primal.
FURY: Agreed on the ads. Thought it was interesting that the Paul Harvey farmers ad was the big hit of the night for the Midwesterners on Twitter. It was good, although it’s amusing that for a million dollar ad, some ad guy came up with the idea of using an old Paul Harvey speech from 30 years ago. Start digging through the archives, Madison Avenue.
What did we think of the Harbaugh coverage during the game? I don’t think it was overdone, actually. I mean, you have to talk about it. They’re brothers, it’s pretty outrageous that they were facing off in the Super Bowl. Jim had his typical meltdowns and the pleading for a holding call (which I thought probably was holding but am fine with no flag) was especially epic. John, though, had one of the stranger outbursts as he chewed out the guy in a suit with the walkie talkie during the power outage. What could the guy have said that offended him so much? Actually the NFL’s probably lucky the outage occurred when it did. Imagine that happening before San Francisco’s final 4th down play. Or in the middle of Jones’ long kickoff return. It destroyed the rhythm of the game but coming right after halftime was as lucky as the NFL could get in that situation.
TV: The Harbaugh stuff seemed tastefully done, for the most part. I was surprised that the parents made themselves so available during the week – I wondered if they would perhaps try to avoid it. Good on them for embracing the situation. It had to have gotten old to retell the “Who’s got it better than us?” story 873,219 times.
It’ll be interesting to see if there’s another Harbaugh Bowl. Both are relatively young, unquestionably bright and have plenty of important pieces in place, namely their quarterbacks. That is, if we feel comfortable classifying Flacco as an elite QB and are OK assuming that Kaepernick will continue to develop. Regardless, both played key roles in an unforgettable game. Really, for all the classic Super Bowls of late this has to be near the top when you consider the pregame storylines (Harbaughs, Lewis), the wild momentum swings, the halftime show, the power outage and the goal-line stand to clinch.
Only the NFL could manage to throw a party like that and make everyone forget (at least for a few hours) the tumult of the season.