New Orleans, LA – A superlative peformance from Joe Flacco has the Baltimore Ravens two quarters away from capturing their second NFL championship, with the AFC champions owning a commanding 21-6 halftime lead over the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII.
Flacco threw three touchdown passes and amassed 192 yards on 13-of-20 efficiency to put his team in the driver's seat at the break, with Anquan Boldin, Dennis Pitta and Jacoby Jones on the receiving end of the Baltimore quarterback's scoring strikes.
The Ravens' defense has done its part as well, limiting the 49ers to two David Akers field goals while forcing two turnovers under an inspired effort in iconic linebacker Ray Lewis' final game.
Niners quarterback Colin Kaepernick wasn't able to match his counterpart Flacco through the first two periods, with the second-year standout completing 8-of-13 throws for 139 yards with one interception.
San Francisco's usually potent ground game has also been held in check, with top back Frank Gore managing just 29 yards on 11 carries thus far and the dangerous Kaepernick held to 16 rushing yards on two scrambles.
The younger 49ers also displayed some signs of nerves during the game's initial stages, committing two early penalties that helped Baltimore jump out to a quick lead.
An illegal formation infraction wiped out a 20-yard connection from Kaepernick to Davis on the first play from scrimmage, with San Francisco ultimately going three-and-out on its debut drive and the Ravens starting near midfield following a 17-yard punt return by Jones.
The Niners appeared to have held Baltimore to a field goal try on the ensuing possession after Flacco's third-down pass missed the mark, but San Francisco linebacker Ahmad Brooks was ruled offside on a blitz attempt to give the Ravens another chance.
Flacco and Boldin made the most of the opportunity, with the latter getting behind San Francisco's zone and hauling in a dart from the Baltimore signal- caller for a 13-yard touchdown less than 4 1/2 minutes into the contest.
Flacco went 3-for-4 for 41 yards on the series, including a 20-yard delivery to Torrey Smith that placed the Ravens in the red zone.
San Francisco would have a response on its next touch, however, marching 62 yards in 12 plays to get into scoring range. The highlight of the sequence, a 24-yard catch by Davis, produced a 1st-and-goal at the Baltimore eight.
Kaepernick missed an open Michael Crabtree for a would-be touchdown on second down, however, and the Niners were forced to settle for an Akers 36-yard field goal after Baltimore's Paul Kruger sacked Kaepernick for a 10-yard loss on the subsequent play.
The Ravens defense would come up with two more big plays before the half would end, enabling the AFC champs to further extend their margin.
Courtney Upshaw stripped running back LaMichael James at the Baltimore 25 to thwart a potential scoring chance on San Francisco's next drive, and Flacco flawlessly executed a 10-play, 75-yard jaunt that again culminated in a touchdown.
The poised quarterback had a pair of key completions to tight end Ed Dickson, the first resulting in a 23-yard gain and the other putting the ball at the San Francisco four after a 15-yard face mask penalty on the 49ers' Donte Whitner.
Two plays later, Flacco fired a 1-yard bullet to Pitta to give the Ravens a 14-3 advantage just past the midway mark of the second quarter.
Ed Reed intercepted Kaepernick at the San Francisco 38 on the 49ers' next offensive snap, but the Ravens would came away empty when kicker Justin Tucker was stopped just short of the first-down marker on a fake field goal attempt that the 49ers successfully snuffed out.
San Francisco failed to get a first down on the change of possession, however, giving Baltimore the ball back with a little over two minutes and plenty of time for Flacco to strike once more.
Faced with a 3rd-and-10 on his own 44, the fifth-year triggerman heaved a deep pass to a wide-open Jones, who made a diving catch at the nine-yard line before rising to his feet and eluding Niners cornerback Chris Culliver for a 56-yard score and a 21-3 Ravens' lead with 1:45 to go before intermission.
San Francisco was able to head into the locker room with a bit of momentum, however, after Kaepernick led an eight-play, 71-yard spree that ended in Akers' 27-yard field goal as time expired. The kick was set up by a 28-yard completion to Delanie Walker to the Ravens' 17 with under a minute left.