Finally….#Super Bowl Sunday is Here!

Dave Mitchell February 3, 2013 Comments Off on Finally….#Super Bowl Sunday is Here!

Purposely we have stayed away from any Super Bowl hype this week. The overdrive of media attention can do more harm than good. Without a doubt we know more about most of the players and coaches involved than we ever thought, or even wanted too. Today at 6:30pm EST we will put away all the hype and luster and get down to what the sport is all about.

For anyone that cares or hasn’t gone back to look, the expectation here was a San Francisco-New England contest. That isn’t happening. Baltimore has made the trip and rose above all expectations to achieve what not many thought they could. Is it possible Ray Lewis and his impending retirement does mean that much to his teammates and organization? If that is the case, what happens next season when he is no longer around? We can get into that in July.

Many will call him the greatest linebacker of all time. Most of those are in the Maryland area. Certainly Lewis is a Hall of Fame enshrinee in five years. Ray Lewis defines the Ravens defense. He has since the inception of the franchise. More than any other player since this century began. Even more so than Peyton Manning and even Tom Brady.

Manning left Indianapolis and the Colts made the playoffs behind Andrew Luck. When you think of the Patriots, the first name that comes to mind is Bill Belichick, not Brady. Think of the Ravens and the first face that comes to mind is that of Lewis.

Lewis is the only player in NFL history to record 40 sacks and 30 interceptions. In this playoff season, he has registered 44 tackles, more than anyone. In addition to his dominating play, it’s been the emotional lift and balance he provides the Ravens on and off the field that is so admired by his teammates and opponents across the league. After 17 seasons, 13 Pro Bowls, 10 All-Pro selections, two NFL Defensive Player of the Year awards and at least one Super Bowl championship and Super Bowl MVP award, who can possibly try to fill that tremendous void when Lewis retires?

The mainstream believes it will be quarterback Joe Flacco. In his first five seasons Flacco has won more playoff road games than any signal caller in NFL history. More than Manning, Brady, Roethlisberger and Montana. But because of Lewis and the notoriety the Ravens defense has received over the years, Flacco has been largely overshadowed. Yet in this post season Flacco has more than proven himself, beating the likes of Andrew Luck, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. In fact it is in the biggest game of his career, the Super Bowl, that Flacco will face of with a quarterback of lesser recognition than him.

Then there is the San Francisco 49ers. A team with the best defense in the league and a history that is surpassed only by the Pittsburgh Steelers. Pittsburgh has six titles in the Super bowl era, yet it’s the Niners who have never lost in the big game. 5-0 and counting.

This game will be won or lost on the defensive side of the ball. Sure one would think the offense will do most of the scoring. However these teams have built their strength the old fashioned way, up the middle.

Both squads have outstanding interior lineman, middle linebackers and safeties. Once they secured the middle, they went after outside positions. Baltimore uses the blitz more than the Niners, but SF gets more pressure on the QB with their defensive line. Meanwhile Baltimore will try and use different alignments to confuse Kaepernick. They did that somewhat with Peyton Manning and it seemed able to diffuse Brady after he tore apart the Ravens in the first half.

SF lines up in a conventional 3-4 and doesn’t waver. They don’t like to blitz, but when they do it normally comes off the ends. Especially with the corners. The Niners were successful in hurting Aaron Rogers with that scheme. How Flacco handles that could mean a win or loss.

Eventually the game will come to an end. The “Harbowl” won’t matter any longer and Ray Lewis will leave his uniform in the lockerrom to enter the ESPN studio. When the confetti comes down on the Super dome field only one team will emerge victorious. Just for fun let’s say we will have the first Super Bowl overtime game. And the winner is……..

Baltimore 27 San Francisco 24.

Dave Mitchell co-hosts with Mark Donahue the UST talk show “Ohio Baseball Weekly,” highlighting the Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds. The Show returns on March 4th at 9pm with a two hour special.