Super Bowl XLVII Exemplifies the Reality of Momentum
Those of us that took physics in high school may know that momentum is defined as “the quantity of motion of a moving body, measured as a product of its mass and velocity.”1 But what is momentum as it relates to sports? It is a collective mentality of confidence. Momentum (in sports) is gathered by a team that consistently makes game-changing plays. In team sports, such as football and basketball, this collective mentality is utilized by successful teams on their way to victory. Super Bowl XLVII provided viewers with a prime example of the reality of sports-related momentum.
To adequately understand this example, some background should be provided about the match-up. The San Francisco 49ers faced off against the Baltimore Ravens. The teams were very similar, as they both possessed league-leading defensive units, inconsistent quarterbacks, and unbelievable rushing attacks. This game had the makings of a low-scoring, defensive showdown; it turned out to be the polar opposite. The high-scoring affair saw both sides accumulating many points through the air. That being said, the game would not be seen as a “shootout,” as the scoring was accomplished at completely different times of the game. The Ravens, led by cannon-armed quarterback Joe Flacco, offensively dominated the first half. The incredible turnaround that took place after the first half is the focus of this article.
To open the second half, the Ravens continued their dominance; they returned their first kickoff return opportunity for the longest touchdown in NFL history (Jacoby Jones, 109 yards). Then, after 49ers’ quarterback Colin Kapernick was sacked to the turf, something unprecedented occurred; the stadium lights blew out. There was total darkness, nothing worked; not even the scoreboard. After the power surge, it took the stadium maintenance crew at least thirty minutes to turn the lights back on. This is where momentum comes into play. The Ravens, after a dominant first half and a great start to the second, had plenty of momentum before the loss of electricity; their defense was “lights out”. This thirty minute break, however, seemed to be enough to end their momentum, and give the 49ers another chance.
Kapernick took full advantage and came out firing. After a touchdown over the middle to receiver Michael Crabtree, the 49ers defense held Flacco and the Ravens to a three-and-out, and punt returner Ted Ginn Jr. took a punt right back into enemy territory. Frank Gore finished off that drive with a ten yard run, and just like that, it was a one-posession game. Several drives later, Kapernick ran in for a touchdown, bringing the game within two points; they didn’t score on the two-point conversion, though, as Kapernick overthrew receiver Randy Moss on a hitch route. Only up two points, the Ravens scored a field goal and established a five point lead, giving the 49ers one last chance
The 49ers made great use of their last drive. Crabtree and Gore were instrumental in moving the ball down the field, and giving Kapernick several chances to score from within the Ravens’ 10 yard line. The last attempt is a controversial play that will live in infamy in the eyes of San Francisco fans; the Ravens’ defender clearly held Michael Crabtree during a play that should have been called pass interference. The call wasn’t made, and the Ravens effectively ran out the clock, leaving the 49ers only with a punt return opportunity. The 49ers didn’t capitalize, and lost Super Bowl XLVII.
San Francisco didn’t come back and win, but their strong attempt proved a phenomenon that has been evidenced many times throughout sports history. The power outage of Super Bowl XLVII shows that momentum does exist in the world of sports. It is a collective mentality of confidence that must be understood and utilized by all teams that have an interest in victory.
Kevin Finkelstein, Staff Writer
1 Definition obtained from Oxforddictionaries.com
*Photo courtesy of colorlines.com