Momentum Is a Fickle Phenomenon

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Published: February 5, 2013

Super Bowl XLVII - Baltimore Ravens v San Francisco 49ersSuper Bowl XLVII is in the books and what a truly exciting game it turned out to be. What started off as Baltimore Raven thumping, soon turned into a match-up that was too close for comfort. It became abundantly clear that right from the kickoff, the Ravens opened the biggest game of the year with a fire in their bellies, dead-set on sending the 49ers home with their first ever Super Bowl loss. Joe Flacco was systematically moving the offense down the field, scrambling from the pocket and making tough passes downfield. Ray Rice bowled over the defense with his powerful legs, while Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith ran tremendous routes, catching long passes with ease. The momentum was clearly with the Ravens in the third quarter, until the unexpected blackout occurred. That’s when the momentum of the game shifted and Super Bowl XLVII not only got a new nickname (The Blackout Bowl) but also shifted the focus from the Ravens over to the San Francisco 49ers. It’s amazing to think how something so simple like a delay can affect the outcome or status of a game being played, but then again, over the years, it has become obvious that momentum is one fickle phenomenon.

Who could have predicted that the Ravens would come out red-hot against such a tough San Francisco defense, but it happened. The Ravens offense was clicking, the defense was able to hold off the young Niner stud Colin Kaepernick, and to begin the second half, Jacoby Jones ran back the kickoff 108 yards for a touchdown. Things couldn’t be looking brighter for a Ravens team looking for only their second Super Bowl victory in team history. With a 28-6 lead, the game was all but in the hands of Baltimore, looking to send the panhandlers home early, while giving the Nation, the notion of watching a “boring” Super Bowl game. But as the fates decided, the Mercedes Benz Superdome suffered a power failure that lasted a confusing 35 minutes and in that time, the 49ers found their stride.

All of a sudden, Colin Kaepernick was back to his old self, Frank Gore found running lanes, Vernon Davis didn’t have butter fingers, and Michael Crabtree became a deep threat. It was as if someone had shut down the lights on the Ravens side of the ball, while power was restored to Jim Harbaugh’s crew. In the matter of minutes, the 49ers tacked up 17 unanswered points, bringing an out of reach game to just a slim 28-23 Baltimore lead. Grief, frustration and disbelief were written all over John Harbaugh’s face as he saw a 22 point lead fizzle away. In the ensuing blackout, the Super Bowl had no other choice but to cover the game, probably because they hadn’t sold the commercial space, and in that time, Mr. Harbaugh can be seen arguing with a stadium official. Heck, can you blame him…his team was steamrolling San Fran, only for the lights to go out and give the Niners basically a second halftime.

The momentum shift in this game was astonishing. Baltimore clearly had the game all but won in the third quarter, especially after’s Jones’ explosive touchdown run…I mean who’s to say what would have happened if the lights didn’t out in New Orleans? Would the Niners still have rallied to make the game a little more interesting? Or would the Ravens have pounded the gold seekers into the ground even further? Hard to say, but only to chalk it up to how fickle momentum in a game can really be. If you think about it, it doesn’t take much…a silly mistake, a turnover, even someone losing their temper can send a team into a spiral, but seeing how a blackout seriously changed the momentum in this contest really drastically affected each team’s second half performance.

Joe Flacco went from stud to dud in the second half, despite being the Super Bowl MVP, while Colin Kaepernick did the complete opposite. Ray Lewis and the Ravens defense shutdown, while Patrick Willis and his crew amped up stopping power, and Jim Harbaugh went from frustrated coach to beaming brother. In my opinion, the blackout saved the San Francisco 49ers from total and utter chaos. Nonetheless, even with a brilliant second half performance from the Niners, the Baltimore Ravens still ended up the victors, claiming their second Super Bowl Championship in team history. However, one questions still lingers, if the Niners had indeed ended up winning the game, would that win be tainted by the fact that the blackout possibly gave them the momentum shift they needed in the second half?

No matter the argument, momentum has proved to a part of any sporting event that has seriously given teams the edge in hardened contests. It’s the mind blowing sensation that gives teams rhythm, focus and energy. It’s ever-changing, but if you have it with you, you can ride it all the way till the clock hits zero. It’s one fickle phenomenon that’s been a big part of the sporting world forever, and to see it witnessed in full force during Super Bowl XLVII was quite the adrenaline rush everyone could have used, and hoped for in a game that seemed all but over, as we watched with awe as Beyonce strut her stuff during the halftime performance.

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