Seasoned veteran and impending retiree Ray Lewis will put his 17 years of hard work to the test Sunday in helping the Baltimore Ravens attempt to overcome the youth, speed and talent of the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII.
“The 49ers are fundamentally sound, but the Ravens have the momentum,” sophomore Amanda Jones said. “They have the drive to win.”
With Super Bowl XLVII serving as Ray Lewis’ last game as middle linebacker for the Ravens, he has all the drive he needs — but what about the rest of his team?
Led by Lewis, the Ravens have a solid and experienced defensive line, but the years under their belts may prove to be a disadvantage when up against San Francisco’s fresh legs. Lately, the 49ers have been notorious for their running game. Running back Frank Gore has rushed for a combined 209 yards and three touchdowns in San Francisco’s prior two playoff wins. Gore’s statistics in postseason play trump to those of Baltimore’s running backs Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce combined.
Offensively in the postseason, the Ravens’ saving grace has been their passing game. Joe Flacco has tallied more passing yards and touchdowns than any other quarterback in the playoffs this year. Despite flying under the radar all season, Flacco is panning out to be an essential piece in Baltimore’s success. As a result of his postseason performance thus far, the 49ers might be expecting immediate shotgun formations, so running the ball right off the bat could prove to be an effective strategy for the Ravens to gain some early yardage.
But defense wins games, right? And while the 49ers’ rushing defense is on point, their secondary is lacking.
In playoffs alone, San Francisco’s secondary has given up five touchdowns and over 650 yards through the air. For the Ravens, that means a lot of pressure on Flacco to come through in the biggest game of the season.
San Francisco certainly has a voice in the rumor mill coming into the game, however. Senior Sarah DeBoard, a native of the Golden State, is chalking up a 49ers victory to their responsiveness and depth.
“I think it’s definitely a 49ers game, not just ‘cause I’m from California, but because the Ravens will not be able to stop the 49ers’ pistol-and-read offense,” DeBoard said. “With Jim Harbaugh, he has nothing but success creating great QBs; with his newest prodigy Colin Kapernick, he has the best of both worlds of running and throwing.”
DeBoard seems to parallel ‘the best defense is a good offense’ mentality, citing key receivers as potential game-changers for the championship victory.
“The Ravens will either be able to stop Colin or Frank Gore, but I have a hard time believing that they will be able to stop both of them,” DeBoard said. “Not to mention Crabtree peaking at the right time as an awesome receiver.”
The contradicting strengths and weaknesses of the Ravens and 49ers will make for an extremely competitive Super Bowl XLVII if both teams perform at their peak.
Since these two teams are so different, opinions vary on which one is the better team overall. However, the majority seems to be rooting for the Ravens.
“I think the 49ers are better, but the Ravens are the team I pick,” sophomore Garrett Jones said. “I like [Ray Lewis’] story, and he is one of my favorite defensive players. He’s been playing in the league for 17 years, and he is still known as one of the meanest, hardest-hitting football players in the league. He’s going down in the hall of fame, but I would love to see a championship ring on his finger when he retires.”
The Ravens and the 49ers take the field in the 47th Super Bowl Sunday at 5:30 p.m.