Beyond the Boxscore
Jim Harbaugh just can't help himself. His older brother John wins the Super Bowl, proves to be the better, more creative and daring coach, and the San Francisco 49ers brat with a headset throws a tantrum.
Instead of just congratulating the man he shared a bedroom with growing up, a man who crawled his way up the coaching ranks the hard way while his pretty boy quarterback self breezed into great opportunities, Jim Harbaugh tries to turn Super Bowl XLVII into a referendum on officiating and how he got robbed.
Now, everyone in America knows why Lions coach Jim Schwartz wanted to kick Jim Harbaugh's ass a few years ago.
In a strange Super Bowl characterized by absurd crimes of hubris — Beyonce forcing the less-famous Destiny's Child girls to collaborate on singing her own singles hit, the GoDaddy slobbering nerd kiss, everyone who should have had an answer coming up with ridiculous reasons the power went out at the Superdome — Jim Harbaugh still manages to stand out as the biggest, toolish egomaniac of all.
Jim Harbaugh and the 49ers get a major, near miracle break in the Super Bowl with that 34-minute blackout delay, one of those moment where you couldn't help but wonder if one of New Orleans' indicted former mayors simply forgot to pay the power company. Without this unprecedented blunder — as if Super Bowl halftimes aren't long enough — San Francisco is completely blown out.
In a strange Super Bowl characterized by absurd crimes of hubris, Jim Harbaugh still manages to stand out as the biggest, toolish egomaniac of all.
The 49ers never recover from 28-6 — and those two miraculous touchdown jolts from ex-Texan goat Jacoby Jones — if the game goes on uninterrupted.
Instead, it halts, the Ravens lose all momentum and much of the life in their old man legs, and the 49ers somehow get a chance.
That's not enough for Jim Harbaugh though. On a night when the gridiron Gods grace him, he still leaves fuming, claiming pass interference and holding on two non-calls that should have been non-calls.
"I really want to handle this with class and grace," Jim Harbaugh begins, an opening that deserves to come with more alarm bells than a feel-good Notre Dame football story.
When someone tells you they want to handle something with "class and grace," you know they're going to do anything but. Jim Harbaugh doesn't disappoint on this count either. He insists that Michael Crabtree, the former Texas Tech receiver who shows much more class than his head coach after the game, gets held on the fourth-and-goal play that ends up sealing Baltimore's 34-31 win.
Never mind the fact that the throw from Harbaugh's handpicked quarterback Colin Kaepernick barely looks catchable. Or that Crabtree pushes off on the play more blatantly than Ravens defensive back Jimmy Smith makes contact with him.
It's a good way to distract America from the fact that he is completely out coached by his big bro on the fateful play.
Jim Harbaugh will still break into that exaggerated holding motion, letting everyone know that he's the most persecuted man in the building.
Hey, it's a good way to distract America from the fact that he is completely out coached by his big bro on the fateful play. For John Harbaugh and the Ravens send an all-out blitz at Kaepernick, leaving the callow quarterback without a real chance to make the play. A bad call here — and that's exactly what a pass interference flag would have been on this play, a very bad call — is the only chance San Francisco has.
So Harbaugh screams for it on the sideline. And uses it as his righteous excuse after the game.
"There's no question in my mind that there was a pass interference (on second and goal) and then a hold on Crabtree on the last one," Jim Harbaugh says in a postgame press conference widely broadcast.
Truth is John Harbaugh and the Ravens deserved to win this game, this championship. It may pain Texans fans to see a team they beat 43-13 on October 21 in a Reliant Stadium revenge game capture the Super Bowl. But Baltimore is clearly the best team in football. This group has banged on the door for years (it took two colossal chokes for them to not beat the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game last season) and they finally knocked it down in New Orleans.
This is about Joe Flacco more than Ray Lewis no matter how much the old linebacker tries to dominate the postgame scene.
And it's about the better Harbaugh Brother seizing the game too. While Jim Harbaugh's gameplan seems uncharacteristically tentative, John Harbaugh goes for the throat. The fake field goal call is a great call even though the Ravens don't make it. John Harbaugh shows his players he'll do anything to win. He'll coach without fear.
Boldness marks this Ravens run, one powered by Flacco's go-for-it deep throws.
The 49ers . . . they're simply left with a grown man's baby whine.
"I'm the coach of the 49ers — there is some bias there," Jim Harbaugh says. "But I wouldn't be bringing it up unless it was obvious."
Jim Harbaugh always has to make it about him. If he can't win the game, he'll steal the postgame attention from his brother, turn himself into the story. If only Jack Harbaugh had grounded this diva more often when Jim was a kid.
Suddenly, Bill Belichick doesn't look like the poorest loser in the NFL anymore. Jim Harbaugh is here to pass the blame and shame the day.