By Daisy Barringer
Five yards. "One for each Super Bowl," I said to my friend. Five yards and three chances to go up 36-34 over the Ravens and win Super Bowl XLVII. And as I stood high up in the Superdome looking down at my boys, there was no doubt in my mind they could do it. Just give the ball to Gore twice and then once to Dixon. Or maybe have our athletic quarterback run it in. Done.
Instead, for reasons no one will likely ever understand, Colin Kaepernick threw to Crabtree three times in a row for three incompletions. And our shot at winning the Lombardi trophy was over. Five agonizing, heart breaking yards from victory.
It’s impossible to truly explain what it’s like to sit in a stadium full of Ravens’ fans and have the biggest dream of your entire life totally crushed. Should there have been a penalty flag thrown on Jimmy Smith for holding Crabtree since he had both of his arms on the WR as he ran towards the end zone? Probably. (Yes.) But was there? No. Am I shocked? Absolutely not.
The game was terribly officiated with all of the calls going against the Niners. I mean, Cary Williams of the Ravens SHOVED A REFEREE and didn’t get ejected. As a fan of the sport, it was embarrassing to watch and the NFL should be ashamed that their refs did such a bad job. I could go on about this forever, but what’s the point? The Niners lost. The Ravens won. And now I’m stuck in New Orleans for another day when all I want is to be home in bed.
Plus, it’s not totally fair to blame the refs when the 49ers came out looking so horrible. Missed tackles, stupid penalties, blown coverage, a LaMichael James turnover and that terrible Kaepernick interception. The Superdome was eerily quiet with even the Ravens fans not getting excited about Flacco’s amazing play. I mean, sure, they sang their annoying “pump up” song, “Seven Nation Army” a bazillion times, but besides that, they were pretty subdued.
In fact, one of them asked me to sit down when I was on my feet screaming “DEFENSE!” on a Baltimore 3rd and 9. Sure seemed like a lot of the folks who scored Super Bowl tickets hadn’t actually ever been to a football game before.
Do I sound bitter? I guess I am. Maybe not bitter. Maybe just sad. Disappointed. Let down. Drained. A little angry. Mostly heartbroken.
I can’t decide what would have been worse. Never even coming close to making up the 22 point deficit or doing what we did after the lights went out and turning it into a game. When Crabtree scored to make the score 28-13, I felt myself perk up. The blackout had been long and exhausting, especially considering I wasn’t really drinking during the game. I used that downtime to go to the ladies’ room, which was pitch black with no running water. And, fine, to grab my second beer of the game. “I might as well have a beer,” I thought. “What’s the point in trying to remember every second of what can only be described as a total debacle?”
But then Crabtree scored. And then Gore scored. And then Terrell Brown recovered a fumble and Akers scored to make it 28-23. I screamed. I jumped up and down. I cried.
And I believed like I’d never believed before. If anyone could do this, it was the Niners. But then after another Baltimore field goal and Kaepernick’s scramble for the touchdown, we failed to get the two-point conversion, leaving us down by two.
And well, you know how the rest of it goes.
There are a lot of people saying today that the NFL told the refs to make sure this one went to the Ravens. That they wanted Ray “Cry Baby Murderer Born-Again Jesus-Lover” Lewis to go out with a ring. I’d like to believe the system isn’t that corrupt. That both teams who make it to the Super Bowl have a fair shot. It’s hard not to dwell on the bad calls because they could have made the difference in the game, but I know that lingering over them, wishing things had gone differently, will only make this loss harder to recover from. I know it will only serve to take me longer to move pass “Anger and Bargaining” and onto “Depression, Reflection, Loneliness.”
Maybe that’s not the worst thing though, since I plan to stay in “Depression” for a long time. I can’t even fathom “Acceptance and Hope.” Not right now. Right now I just need to stay in bed and mope and cry and grieve the loss. I’ll move on to “Acceptance and Hope” next September when the 49ers try to do it all over again. It’s going to be a long six months. Not just for me. But for everyone around me.
I can tell you one thing though. Even though I am so happy I made the last-minute decision to fly to New Orleans without a ticket to the game. And even though I’m the luckiest girl in the world that I managed to secure two tickets at face value for me and a friend. And even though I’ve had amazing hosts who let me crash with them for four nights. And even though I love the architecture and the people here. And even though I entered a beer-chugging contest for the first time in my life on a stage in a club (and lost). And even though I got to go to the biggest sporting event in the world while my team was playing
I will never go to another Super Bowl again.
I am so thrilled I’ve been to one and can cross it off of my bucket list. And I’m glad I was there to root on my boys when the rest of the stadium was checking email and chatting about the weather. But, ultimately, something was missing. For the majority of the game, there was no excitement in the air. I was so nervous before the game that I couldn’t speak. But no one else really seemed fazed. It’s as though they were at the game just ‘cause they could be, rather than because they actually wanted to be. And that’s not anything I have any desire to experience again for the rest of my life.
It’s weird to say this, but I think it would have been more fun to watch on TV, surrounded by friends and Niners’ fans. People who would have screamed along with me. Let me stand up as much as I wanted. And to whom a Niners’ win also would have meant the world. At least thanks to the last-minute tickets, I had one dear friend sitting next to me. Someone to hug. And someone to cry with. Someone who understood as we walked out of the Superdome that there was nothing to say except, “Get me home and into bed.”
We parted ways on Canal Street, she heading to Bourbon Street to meet her friends, me heading to the ferry that would take me across the Mississippi. As I sat on the ferry, alone, my head in my hands, it hit me. The 49ers lost the Super Bowl. And that’s when I started to cry.
I cried because I believed. I cried because I wanted it not just for me, but for San Francisco. For my fellow fans. And for the 49ers players who have worked so hard to get where they are.
I wanted it for Jim Harbaugh. And for Jed York. And for Trent Baalke. For Greg Roman (despite that bizarre play calling at the end) and Jim Tomsula.
Mostly I wanted it for Frank Gore.
Alas. It wasn’t meant to be. Our crappy play at the beginning of the game and the shady refs made sure of it.
What else is there to say?
Before I go, I just want to thank the entire 49ers organization and team for an incredible year. These guys have more heart and determination than any other NFL players. Sure, there are a few issues (secondary) that need to be addressed, but I fully believe we can actually make a run for it again next year.
This will come across as depressing, but I might as well be honest since this will be my last column for SFist until next year (if they bring me back). 49ers football is the one thing that keeps me going from September through (hopefully) January/February. It’s the one thing I look forward to every week. That gets me excited to chat with friends. Even when I have a crappy day, I know that I have the Niners on Sunday (or Thursday or Monday). I’m a bit of a hermit with only a handful of close friends, and at times it can be lonely and a bit tough. But the Niners give me hope and a reason to get out of bed. And for that, I am so thankful.
Niners: You guys gave it your all. A slow start yesterday, for sure, but you bounced back and reminded the world why you were there. And you helped me remember to always believe. Even when things don’t go our way.
It was an amazing season. One I’ll never forget. I traveled to Green Bay for the Packers game. New York for the Jets game. I went to every home game, including the playoff game against Green Bay, and got field passes for the Bills game. And then, at the last minute, flew to New Orleans for the Super Bowl. It didn’t turn out how I hoped, but it was a season I’ll never forget. Thank you to everyone who was a part of it. Including all of you who followed my journey and rooted me on, some of you complete strangers. It means the world to me.
Now, if you’ll excuse me. I think it’s time to go back to bed. I can feel the tears coming
See you next year. And as always... go Niners.