From a Patriots perspective, one of the main things to take away from the Super Bowl is that they are now a prime candidate to be part of the NFL’s season-opening game for 2013.
As has been a recent tradition, the Super Bowl winner hosts the NFL opener on a Thursday night.
With the Ravens defeating the 49ers in the Super Bowl, does the NFL like the idea of a Patriots at Ravens matchup to open the 2013 season? It seems ideal -- a rematch of the AFC Championship Game in each of the last two seasons.
The other options would be the Ravens against the Bengals, Browns, Steelers, Jets, Texans, Packers or Vikings.
As for the Super Bowl itself, a few thoughts, some with a Patriots twist:
1. The power delay that lasted 34 minutes was a big part of this game. The Ravens led 28-6 at the time and things changed quickly after the delay. Obviously, it was more than just the delay that sparked the 49ers’ comeback -- some credit needs to go to the 49ers as well as quarterback Colin Kaepernick for finally settling down -- but the extended break also seemed to stunt the momentum the Ravens had generated. Ultimately, a credit to the Ravens for having the mental toughness to stem the tide.
2. The non-call in the end zone on the 49ers' potential go-ahead touchdown will be debated. I’ll defer to former NFL VP of officiating Mike Pereira, who felt the non-call was the right call. Lot of contact there.
3. Former Patriots defensive coordinator Dean Pees was burned when he sent pressure on a key play in Super Bowl XLII, as the Giants scored the game-winning touchdown on a Plaxico Burress catch against overmatched and outsized cornerback Ellis Hobbs. On the key fourth-down play in this game, Pees -- now the Ravens' defensive coordinator -- sent pressure and it worked. Specific to Pees, the link between those two moments resonated here.
4. Linebacker Ray Lewis will naturally be a big storyline based on his retirement, but let’s be honest: He was one of the biggest liabilities on either defense.
5. Ravens receiver Anquan Boldin was tremendous. Boldin was a second-round draft choice in 2003, taken with the 54th overall draft choice. The Patriots went with a receiver in the second round that year, trading up to the 45th selection for Bethel Johnson. Echoing words that Bill Belichick sometimes uses, I'm sure that's one the team would like to have back. I thought Boldin could have been MVP, but it went to Joe Flacco.
6. Jacoby Jones’ 108-yard kickoff return for a touchdown at the start of the second half, giving the Ravens a 28-6 lead, served as a reminder that the Patriots need to get that element back -- and the answer might already be on the roster in the form of Jeff Demps.
7. Great finish to the NFL season. It's why we love this game.