The Baltimore Ravens’ electrifying 34-31 victory over the surging San Francisco 49ers put the final touches on one of the most satisfying Super Bowl weekends in recent Minnesota sports memory. Adrian Peterson was named Offensive Player of the Year and given MVP honors, Leslie Frazier did not get awarded Coach of the Year, Chris Carter was elected to the Hall of Fame, the Gophers men’s basketball team won in the last seconds to Iowa, and all-time good guy, former Vikings center, Harvard graduate, (and world’s biggest Leprechaun) Matt Birk won his first Super Bowl (and Randy Moss didn’t).
The game itself seemed like it was going to be another super bust. The Ravens started fast, with two Joe Flacco touchdown passes in the red zone.
Flacco is a pinpoint passer who, as the analysts say, “throws open” his supersized receivers Torrey Smith and Anquan Boldin. Flacco finished with 287 yards, three touchdowns, and no interceptions to earn MVP honors. Unfortunately, this means that the Ravens are going to lock him up and throw away the key, ruining my prediction that the Vikings were going to make him a free agent acquisition. Alex Smith anyone?
When Jacoby Jones turned on the afterburners and rocketed to an NFL record-tying 108-yard kickoff return touchdown to start the second half, it looked like it was going to take a miracle for the 49ers to come back. Let there be…DARKNESS! Did Randy Moss sneak upstairs and trip a circuit breaker? Did Mardi Gras beads get stuck in the generator? The cause of the 34 minute power outage is a New Orleans voodoo mystery, but it jump-started a 49ers rally that came within 5 yards of winning the game.
Here are some random thoughts on the Super Bowl and the end of the 2013 season. The Ray Lewis crocodile tear religious act is worthy of a special Oscar for “Biggest Dillweed.” Are we supposed to forget that Lewis pled guilty to obstruction of justice in a double murder? Basically he gave up two of his friends to save his own skin. Then there’s the troubling allegations that Lewis had taken a reindeer antler extract called IGF-1, that is banned by the NFL, to help him recover from a torn tricep. Finally, it was just reported that Lewis hasn’t given a nickel to the two non-profit organizations that he set up to repair his image after the murder investigation. They say that the devil is an expert at quoting scripture, and for Lewis the devil is in the details.
Randy Moss’ slumber in big games continues. Randy once again decided that he didn’t want to play, even though it was the biggest game of the year on a worldwide stage. He caught two passes for 41 yards, and to be accurate, wasn’t targeted much, but his lack of effort to defend against the
Colin Kaepernick interception and lackadaisical blocking and route running in the Super Bowl permanently disqualifies him from being mentioned in the same conversation with Jerry Rice as the best receiver of all time.
Chris Carter is the best Viking wide receiver of all time, and probably the best bargain in NFL history. Minnesota claimed Carter off the waiver wire from Philadelphia for a $100 fee. The gifted, but troubled, receiver had substance abuse and maturity problems that prompted Buddy Ryan to waive him with the comment “All he catches are touchdowns.” He was only partially right. Carter finished his career with 130 touchdown receptions thrown from 13 different quarterbacks. He also became the most sure-handed and prolific receiver in Vikings’ history with 1,004 receptions and forty 100-yard receiving games. He was a true artist at receiver, and patented the one-handed grab and two-toe sideline reception. He also was a mentor and positive example for the rest of the team. In his current role as NFL analyst, Carter is dapper, insightful, and eloquent. His election to the Hall of Fame is long overdue.
Finally, what post-Super Bowl column would be complete without comments about the events pre-game and half time festivities. Alec Baldwin was wickedly funny in the Saturday night awards show. Quips of local interest included him saying that Adrian Peterson’s workout routine involved carrying an entire team on his back, and that pondering is the new word to describe a quarterback that sits back and watches while his running back does all the work.
Jennifer Hudson did a beautifully poignant performance of “America the Beautiful” with a choir made up of children from Sandy Hook elementary school. Many of the NFL players on the sidelines were moved to tears. Alicia Keyes channeled Bill Murray with a lounge singer version of the national anthem, and although I’m not a big Beyoncé fan, it was refreshing not to have a Super Bowl halftime act that wasn’t two steps from the nursing home.