Ray Lewis Calling It Quits
Whether or not the Baltimore Ravens beat the San Francisco 49ers, playing his last game in the Super Bowl is the perfect way for Ray Lewis, one of the greatest linebackers ever to play the game, to end his career.
This will be Lewis’ second Super Bowl as he and the Baltimore defense led the Ravens to a Super Bowl XXV victory over the New York Giants. In that game Lewis had three tackles, two assists, and four passes defended and passionately led the Ravens defense which garnered him Super Bowl MVP honors.
In his regular season career Lewis has racked up 1,558 total tackles, 41.5 sacks, 19 forced fumbles, 19 fumble recoveries, three interceptions, and 119 passes defended. In post season play Lewis has 128 total tackles, two sacks, three forced fumbles, a fumble recovery, two interceptions and an interception returned for a touchdown.
Lewis has received Pro Bowl honors 13 times, First-Team All-Pro honors seven times, and has been name the AP Defensive Player of the Year twice.
As great as those statistics are another thing that makes Lewis special is the fact that he has done something rarely seen in professional sports anymore, play his whole career for one team. Baltimore drafted Lewis in their first draft in 1996 and the rest as they say is history.
Baltimore is going to have big shoes to fill on defense next season.
Two “Rookie” Quarterbacks in the Super Bowl
This will be the first Super Bowl for both Baltimore’s Joe Flacco and San Francisco’s Colin Kaepernick.
Flacco has been the quarterback for the Baltimore Ravens since 2008 and has played in every game since joining the Ravens. Flacco has thrown for over 3,000 passing yards and 20 touchdowns in each of the past four seasons, and has led the Ravens to the playoffs in all five seasons that he has been quarterback.
After losing at the divisional level twice and the conference level twice, Flacco finally has the Ravens into the Super Bowl. It was no easy task getting their either having to outduel three of the league’s top quarterbacks in Andrew Luck, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady.
Kaepernick, who is in his second season in the league, took over for Alex Smith in a November game against St. Louis in which Smith led the game with an injury. Kaepernick would never look back as he became the permanent starter and went 5-2 in games in which he started.
This season Kaepernick has thrown for 1,814 yards, ten touchdowns, and only three interceptions. Additionally, the 230-pound Kaepernick likes to run the ball having rushed for 415 yards and five touchdowns this season.
These are two different types of quarterbacks and their duel ultimately will be decided by the play of the opposing team’s defense.
Battle of Two Brothers
This will be a unique Super Bowl as two brothers will go head-to-head to try to win their team the Lombardi Trophy. Though they are brothers each took a different path to end up where they are today.
John Harbaugh played college football as a defensive back for the Miami Hurricanes. John started his coaching career with Western Michigan University and held various line coaching positions at different colleges between 1984 and 1997. He broke into the NFL in 1998, working from 1998 through 2006 as a special team coordinator for the Philadelphia Eagles, before becoming the team’s defensive backs coach for the 2007 season. In 2008 John became the head coach of the Baltimore Ravens.
Jim Harbaugh played college at Michigan and had a phenomenal time there as a quarterback, finishing with 5,449 passing yards and 31 touchdowns. The Chicago Bears drafted Jim and he played quarterback there for seven seasons before playing for the Indianapolis Colts, San Diego Chargers and the Baltimore Ravens.
Jim worked for Western Kentucky University for eight seasons before spending two seasons as the quarterback coach for the Oakland Raiders. After spending two seasons in Oakland, Jim coached for the University of San Diego for three seasons before becoming the head coach of the Stanford Cardinals in 2007. Jim would be the head coach at Stanford for four seasons with his last season being his best as he guided Stanford to a 12-1 record, a win in the Orange Bowl and a number four finish in the AP poll and the Coaches poll.
In 2011 Jim became the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers.
Both coaches have enjoyed success in the NFL as neither has experienced a losing season, and John is 54-26 in the regular season and 8-4 in the playoffs while Jim is 24-7-1 in the regular season and 2-1 in the playoffs. Additionally, John leads the Harbaugh rivalry having leading his Ravens to a 16-6 win over San Francisco in week 11 of the 2011 season.
Defense Wins Championships
Despite Baltimore's reputation for stellar defenses it was San Francisco's defense that dominated the NFL in 2012. San Francisco finished the season allowing the fourth fewest passing and rushing yards, the second fewest total points and first downs, and tied Indianapolis for the ninth most sacks.
However, Baltimore did finish the season with the seventh most total tackles and 13th most sacks in 2012 and have turned things up a notch in the playoffs. In the playoffs Baltimore has 237 tackles, six sacks, five interceptions, and held the mighty New England Patriots to only 13 points.
In Baltimore's Super Bowl XXXV win over New York, the Giants were unable to score an offensive touchdown in the game. Expect that same intensity and a back forth battle from both Harbaugh defenses in Super Bowl XLVII.
Other Facts and Statistics
In the last seven Super Bowls the quarterback wearing the smaller jersey number has a record of 5-2 and has won four of the last five games which bodes well for Flacco who wears number five which is smaller than Kaepernick's number seven.
In the last seven Super Bowls the NFC is 4-3 and has won the last three straight. The last AFC team to win the Super Bowl was Pittsburgh in Super Bowl XLIII.
The Super Bowl has been played in New Orleans nine times, six in the Superdome and three times in Tulane Stadium. The NFC leads the New Orleans Super Bowl series 5-4, however the AFC won the last Super Bowl in New Orleans when New England beat St. Louis in Super Bowl XXXVI.
In the past two seasons San Francisco is 1-0 in the Superdome as they beat the New Orleans Saints in week 12 of the 2012 season. Since John Harbaugh has become the coach of the Baltimore Ravens have not played a game in the Superdome.