--- Don Banks of Sports Illustrated writes that legendary linebacker Ray Lewis ended his career on top.
“You don't have to buy everything that Ray Lewis is selling -- and plenty of people don't, me included -- to enjoy the storybook ending that was his ‘last ride,’” Banks wrote. “Lewis and the Baltimore Ravens are champions of the NFL again, 12 years after their first Super Bowl ring was earned, and he will forever be remembered for having gone out on top, in a fashion so few get to experience. It's not really important that folks outside of the Baltimore organization believe in Lewis' ability to inspire and lift his teammates to greatness. Because those inside it do. And that was enough to get the job done this season, wasn't it?”
--- Robert Klemko of USA Today writes about what it was like to celebrate with quarterback and Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco.
“It's 12:40 a.m.,” he wrote, “and Joe walks into Huck Finn's on Decatur St., a three-room French Quarter sports bar tucked away from raucous Bourbon Street. Tonight the bar hosts a private party for Joe's family and friends, 60 of them flown here at Joe's expense the week of the biggest game of his life. Wearing a long sleeve grey shirt, blue jeans and grey sneakers, Joe pushes open the door, grinning. The party cheers his arrival, and before he can hug his wife, Dana, chants of ‘M-V-P, M-V-P’ fill the bar. Outside, Ravens fans in purple jerseys crouch and peer through the window panes as an unassuming bouncer stands guard at the door.”
--- Michael Silver of Yahoo! writes that the Ravens’ long, turbulent trip to a Super Bowl title this season was a love story.
“His work was done. His conquest was complete. And with his sons in tow, a victory party to attend and a post-football existence to begin, Ray Lewis politely declined to answer another question about the Baltimore Ravens' remarkable Super Bowl XLVII triumph,” he wrote. “Then, suddenly, the departing star changed his mind: The subject matter stopped him. What's love got to do with it? Lewis, the Ravens' legendary linebacker and unparalleled leader, the man who'd just been part of a dramatic goal-line stand to preserve a 34-31 victory over the San Francisco 49ers, flashed a satisfied smile and gave the final quote of his 17-year career. ‘Love,’ Lewis said, ‘is the reason why we're here.’”
“Two weeks ago, Jack and Jackie Harbaugh knew one of their sons would be the losing coach in Super Bowl XLVII. As this week in the Big Easy drew to a close, they understood they would feel exquisite pain for either John or Jim -- perhaps more than the joy they would feel for the winner,” he wrote. “That's how families operate; more of the support always goes to the one who needs it most. Thirty minutes after the Baltimore Ravens beat the San Francisco 49ers in a 34-31 thriller at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, the Harbaugh parents stood side by side, about 25 feet from the winning coach's interview podium. They smiled tight, bittersweet smiles as John Harbaugh spoke to the assembled media.”
--- Pete Prisco of CBS Sports writes that Joe Flacco emerged from the darkness in the Superdome as a big-game performer.
“Sitting on the end of the bench, cool as can be, darkness dimming the Superdome around him, the uncertainty of the situation unsettling to most, Joe Flacco seemed to shine brighter than anybody else during the 34-minute break when the lights went out on Super Bowl XLVII Sunday,” he wrote. “If he was bothered, it didn't show. The beam of validation, the shine of Super Bowl greatness, seemed to be emanating from a quarterback who needed it, a quarterback who until Sunday was considered part of the second-tier group of passers in the league. At the time of the blackout, when a power outage dimmed the lights and seemed to give life to the San Francisco 49ers, the Ravens led 28-6 and Flacco had three touchdown passes in the books, so maybe he had reason to be calm. This was his time, his moment. Seeing him calmly sitting on the bench, you could tell he knew it.”
“Jacoby Jones is not the most notable native Louisianian on the Baltimore Ravens; that would be safety Ed Reed. He is also not the Ravens player best known for on-field dancing; that honor goes to the retiring linebacker Ray Lewis. On Sunday, though, as the Ravens beat the San Francisco 49ers,” he wrote, “Jones starred in his home city and shimmied with a rhythm that surely made Lewis proud. Jones caught one touchdown pass and returned a kickoff 108 yards for another, setting an NFL postseason record, in providing the most explosive moments of the Ravens’ victory.”
--- Mike Pereira of FOX Sports writes that despite complaints from the 49ers, officials made the right "non-call."
“[Colin] Kaepernick lofted a pass to Michael Crabtree, who was being guarded by Jimmy Smith. Both players were hand fighting and when you look at this play in real time, there's not enough to call pass interference against either player. Smith had a quick grab and Crabtree had a quick push-off. Smith went down on the play and the pass fell incomplete,” he wrote. “Crabtree never complained and it's the type of play where a flag thrown against either team would have, in my mind, created more controversy than a decision not to throw the flag.”
--- Mark Purdy of The San Jose Mercury-News writes that the 49ers feel the better team lost in the Super Bowl.
“The game will be remembered as a classic and legendary and crazy Super Bowl. And in the Bay Area, it will be remembered as a game the 49ers lost, not a game the Baltimore Ravens won,” he wrote. “’I respect them,’ running back Frank Gore said of the Ravens. ‘But we're the better team.’ He might be correct. But the better team does not always win. The team that plays better almost always does. Baltimore did when it mattered.”
--- Peter Schrager of FOX Sports writes that coach John Harbaugh made believers out of this Ravens team.
“Harbaugh got the best of Jim Harbaugh in Super Bowl XLVII -- the first time two brothers faced off as opposing coaches in an American professional league championship game,” he wrote. “The Baltimore Ravens beat the San Francisco 49ers 34-31 in a record-long 4-hour, 14-minute marathon that included huge swings of momentum, key fourth-down stands and a 34-minute blackout. John Harbaugh beat Jim, his younger brother by a mere fifteen months, to the family’s first Lombardi Trophy. And he has the Motown writing duo Ashford and Simpson to thank. Wait, what?”
--- Ashley Fox of ESPN writes that Flacco is poised to cash in after leading the Ravens to a Lombardi Trophy.
“John Harbaugh said it after the season opener: Pay the man. Pay Joe Flacco. Pay him whatever he wants. Pay him more than Drew Brees. Pay him more than Peyton Manning. Pay him more than Tom Brady,” she wrote. “What's the difference between $18 million and $19 million and $20 million per year now? Joe Flacco is a Super Bowl champion. He is the game's most valuable player. He is the reason why the Baltimore Ravens beat the San Francisco 49ers, 34-31, on Sunday night and why owner Steve Bisciotti hoisted his first Lombardi Trophy as majority owner. The Ravens were Super Bowl champions in 2000 because of a dominating defense that carried an average quarterback who was asked to manage a game. The Ravens are Super Bowl champions now because Flacco took ownership of the offense and insisted it carry a team that had an aging, if still relatively effective, defense. Joe Flacco's arm, his guts, his touch, his poise and his unwillingness to fear failure are why the Ravens won Super Bowl XLVII. Joe Flacco. Joe Cool. Joe MVP. Now pay the man.”