Early in the second quarter, 49ers running back LaMichael James skirted around the right end, got nailed by Corey Graham and Courtney Upshaw and fumbled. Arthur Jones recovered for the Ravens. The 49ers never did recover.
Big plays. We more vividly remember the ones that happen late. But they happen early, too.
At the time the Ravens had a 7-3 lead. The 49ers were on a four-play, 56-yard drive to the Ravens 24 yard line. In line for a reasonable field goal attempt even for the shaky David Akers, the 49ers looked poised to grab the lead with a touchdown.
After the fumble, Joe Flacco led the Ravens to a 10-play touchdown drive giving their lead the cushion they would never relinquish.
There were big plays afterward. Ed Reed intercepted a Colin Kaepernick pass. Jacoby Jones returned the second half kickoff for a touchdown. Ray Rice fumbled. Michael Crabtree caught a touchdown pass. Colin Kaepernick ran for one.
Two other key events that couldn’t be classified as plays also had major influences on the game. Everyone will remember the lights going out that might have killed the Ravens momentum. The other was the injury to Ravens defensive lineman Haloti Ngata. Once he went out, the Ravens defense was never the same.
The lead never did change hands. That is the one fact that prevents this Super Bowl from going down as the best ever.
The 49ers made a fantastic Silky Sullivan run as Kaepernick got hot in the second half but they never could get to the front. The two first half turnovers were too much to overcome.
When the 49ers had their first chance to tie the game, it was off the Rice fumble. The Ravens defense held them to a field goal that drive, fought off their two-point conversion the next drive and held them out of the end zone in the final minutes.
If only we could handicap turnovers. There is no other factor in football that has such a big influence.
The 47 Super Bowl winners have an accumulated 52 turnovers. The 47 losers have turned it over 147 times.
If you had the winner, be happy and celebrate. The Ravens were definitely the right side. They won the game and deserved it.
But a couple big plays here or there could have easily changed the outcome. In other words, it was a typical football game.
Chris Andrews has over 30 years of experience as a bookmaker in Nevada. You can follow him on Twitter@AndrewsSports. Chris has a dedicated thread in the Pregame.com forums, answering your questions and more. Contact Chris at [email protected].