By Ed Barkowitz Philadelphia Daily News
Television and its advertisers probably wanted Tom Brady here, but he was busy throwing the ball away on fourth down and doing a Ty Cobb imitation to protect himself from the Baltimore Ravens’ fierce defense. So you get the kid from Audubon, N.J., who has been clutch throughout the playoffs
Attending a Super Bowl in New Orleans should be at the top of any NFL fan’s bucket list. But before you try the gumbo and the crawfish etouffee, here are 35 other things to nibble on ahead of this year’s fascinating game.
1. The practice of kissing the right biceps in celebration is called “Kaepernicking,” which 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick is attempting to trademark. The practice of quietly winning playoff games on the road without bringing attention to yourself is called Flacco-ing, which everyone should try to mimic.
2. Kaepernick is the first quarterback to start the season as a reserve and lead his team to the Super Bowl since Jake Delhomme brought the Panthers to the Supe following the 2003 season. Delhomme replaced Rodney Peete in the second half of the season opener.
3. The Ravens were forced to adjust their offensive line when guard Jah Reid suffered a season-ending toe injury after the first playoff game. Left tackle Bryant McKinnie, a Woodbury High product who was a reserve for the first time in his 11-year career, came off the bench and is playing his best ball in years.
4. The key to McKinnie’s season probably was his solid play in an otherwise meaningless Week 17 game against the Bengals. It was his first extended duty all season, which started when he had to accept a $1 million pay cut to $2.2 million.
5. Niners Pro Bowl safety Donte Whitner suffered serious injuries when he was hit by a car when he was 6 years old, chasing a football into the street outside his home in Cleveland. He was told by doctors that he might never walk again. A few years later, he told the Cleveland Plain Dealer that he forged his mom’s signature on a permission slip to play Pop Warner football.
6. Team architect Ozzie Newsome’s first two draft picks as a Ravens executive in 1996 were Jonathan Ogden and Ray Lewis. Ogden is expected to be tabbed for the Hall of Fame this weekend. Lewis is closing out his HOF career this weekend.
7. Lewis’ first career sack was on Jim Harbaugh when the Niners’ coach played for Indianapolis.
8. Lewis and tight-ends coach Wade Harman are the only holdovers from Baltimore’s Super Bowl win after the 2000 season. The only 49ers player to win a Supe was reserve linebacker Clark Haggans, who played for the 2005 Steelers.
9. The last time the 49ers played a Super Bowl in New Orleans, they beat the Bengals, 55-10, for the 1989 title. Tampa was the site of the Ravens’ only other Super Bowl appearance. They hammered the Giants, 34-7.
10. Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta is one of Joe Flacco’s closest teammates. Pitta, in his third season, had a career-best 61 catches and seven touchdowns, and just two drops on 94 targets. Pitta was a walk-on at BYU who left as the school’s all-time leading receiver.
11. Baltimore running back Bernard Pierce is the 12th Temple player to reach the Super Bowl. Owls players are 14-4 in Supes, led by former Steelers tight end Randy Grossman’s 4-0 and Patriots/Colts fullback/defensive lineman Dan Klecko’s 3-0.
12. San Francisco defensive coordinator Vic Fangio was a Ravens assistant from 2006-10, so he knows Baltimore’s personnel quite well.
13. Proof that numbers aren’t everything: The Ravens have scored 157 points in the six games since Jim Caldwell replaced Cam Cameron as the offensive coordinator in mid-December. In the six games that led up to Cameron’s dismissal, the Ravens scored 157 points. They were 4-2 during each stretch, except five of the six games with Caldwell were against playoff teams.
14. Given how the bounty scandal destroyed the Saints’ season even before it started, what kind of reception do you think Roger Goodell will get when he presents the Super Bowl trophy Sunday night? It still won’t be as bad as when Gary Bettman hands out the Stanley Cup in June.
15. The Ravens beat the 49ers in a 2011 Thanksgiving game, which was the first time two brothers coached against one another in an NFL game. Sunday will be the second time, and first in a playoff game for any of the four major sports.
16. Jack Harbaugh, the coaches’ father, recalled going into the 49ers locker room after that 2011 game: “It was quiet and somber and finally I saw Jim all by himself … his hands on his head. And we realized this is where we were needed. We know we are going to experience that one way or another this week.”
17. Ravens center Matt Birk and 49ers wide receiver Randy Moss were teammates with the Vikings from 1998-2004. Don’t expect pregame hugs, since Moss sulked his way out of Minneapolis following the Vikings’ playoff loss in Philadelphia after the 2004 season.
18. Kaepernick is 2-1 in domes as a starter, including a win in New Orleans in late November. Flacco is 1-5 indoors, including a loss at Houston earlier this season when Reliant Stadium’s retractable roof was closed.
19. Good move by Kaepernick to order pizza for an overflow media contingent recently at 49ers practice. The Super Bowl MVP award is a combination vote of fans (20 percent) and sports writers/broadcasters (80 percent). Quarterbacks have won five of the last six Supe MVPs.
20. Given John Harbaugh’s background as the Eagles’ former special-teams coach, it’s no surprise the Ravens were second in average starting position after kickoffs (around their own 25) and fifth in their opponent’s starts (just more than the 20).
21. Remember, it was Ray Rhodes who hired John Harbaugh to be an Eagles assistant, not Andy Reid.
22. San Fran running back Frank Gore’s full name is Franklin Delano Gore. Give the parents points for historical knowledge even if FDG doesn’t roll off the tongue like FDR.
23. Gore’s big career break came in 2006 when the 49ers traded Kevan Barlow to the Jets and handed the starting job to Gore. He responded with 1,695 rushing yards and is the franchise’s all-time leader with 8,839.
24. Ravens kicker Justin Tucker was a teammate of Nick Foles at Westlake High School, just outside of Austin, Texas.
25. Flacco has a streak of 162 pass attempts without an interception, including 93 in three playoff games. Kaepernick has one pick in his 52 postseason throws.
26. Commercials cost about $3.8 million for a 30-second spot, up about $300,000 from last year, and nearly $127,000 per second. If it took you 7 seconds to read those two sentences, the Daily News would owe you $886,000. Take a check?
27. San Fran wide receiver Michael Crabtree also was recruited to play basketball at Texas Tech by Bobby Knight, no less. Crabtree stuck to football, however, became a first-round pick and had a career-best 85 catches this season.
28. This is the 10th time New Orleans has hosted the Super Bowl, but the first post-Katrina. East Rutherford, N.J., is the site of next year’s game (Feb. 2, 2014). The forecast for the Meadowlands area for this Sunday? Temperatures in the 20s-30s with light wind.
29. Ravens star defensive tackle Haloti Ngata lost both parents while he was at Oregon. His father, Solomone, died in a car accident in 2002. His mother, Olga, died of a heart attack during kidney dialysis just before he was drafted in 2006.
30. Baltimore is the second team to beat Peyton Manning and Tom Brady in the postseason. The other was the 2010 Jets, which lost to the Steelers in the AFC title game.
31. San Fran beat Aaron Rodgers and Matt Ryan on its way here, which also isn’t too shabby.
32. Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti was born in Philadelphia in 1960, but his family moved to the Baltimore area less than a year later.
33. The Ravens have won the last three meetings with the 49ers, including a 9-7 slugfest in 2007 and a 16-6 zzzz-fest last year. Advertising executives will be crying in their Bourbon Street Hurricanes if there’s not more scoring on Sunday.
34. Combined, the teams are averaging more than 30 points in their playoff games, while giving up 22. The over/under is 461/2.
35. The last Super Bowl in New Orleans was the best of the previous nine. Adam Vinatieri kicked a 48-yarder as time expired to beat the Rams in Supe 36 (2002 season) and give the Patriots, 14-point underdogs, their first title.