Thursday, November 23, 2017
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tom Jones' Two Cents: Super Bowl brings super storylines

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Hey, did you hear that two brothers are facing each other in the Super Bowl?

Did you know that Ray Lewis is trying to win it all in the last game of his sure-fire Hall of Fame career?

Wait, what? You did? You already knew all that?

Of course you did. You don't live in a cave. You own a TV. You read the newspaper.

For the next 12 days, you are going see Lewis' face in your sleep. You will be able to repeat the story of the Harbaugh brothers. Backwards. In three languages.

But there are other Super Bowl stories to follow and other matchups to watch.

Here are some of the reasons to get excited about this year's Big Game, a couple of the other stories to watch and a few tidbits to care about — and I promise not to mention the names of "Harbaugh,'' "Lewis'' or the other "Harbaugh.''

First off, no Patriots

Rejoice. Hallelujah. No Tom Brady stories. No Robert Kraft features. No boring Bill Belichick news conferences. The Patriots have played in five of the past 11 Super Bowls, so thankfully, we get a break this year.

Unless you're a fan of listening to Brazilian supermodels criticize players, ugly grey hoodies or that wacky Boston mayor who mangles everyone's name, you're grateful that you don't have to see another Patriots Super Bowl.

By the way, interesting numbers: The last time Brady won a Super Bowl, he was 27. He's now 35. Every other Boston team — the Red Sox, Celtics and Bruins — has won a championship since the Pats.

49ers QB Colin Kaepernick vs. the Ravens defense

In the playoffs, the Ravens have beaten likely rookie of the year Andrew Luck of the Colts, likely league MVP Peyton Manning of the Broncos and one of the best quarterbacks ever in Brady.

Go back to the regular season. The Ravens beat Brady, Cincinnati's Andy Dalton, Dallas' Tony Romo, San Diego's Philip Rivers and the Giants' Eli Manning.

So you're telling me that the Ravens are going to have issues with a guy who has started only nine NFL games?

Actually, yes. Two QBs really gave the Ravens fits this season — the Redskins' Robert Griffin III and the Eagles' Michael Vick. Before suffering a knee injury in a Dec. 9 game against the Ravens, RG3 threw for 242 yards and a score and ran for 34 yards. Early this season, Vick threw for a whopping 371 yards and a score and ran for 34 yards and another score. The Ravens lost both games.

Kaepernick is just as mobile as Vick and RG3 and arguably a better thrower than both. Not a great matchup for Baltimore.

Ravens receivers vs. the 49ers defense

Baltimore receivers Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith and tight end Dennis Pitta have been terrific in the postseason. In three games, they've combined for seven touchdowns. Bolden has been a beast with 16 catches for 276 yards. In the AFC Championship Game, the three combined for 14 catches for 183 yards and three touchdowns.

Meantime, the 49ers had all kinds of problems covering the Falcons receivers in the NFC title game. Yeah, the Niners won, but they allowed nearly 400 passing yards as Julio Jones (11 catches, 182 yards, two TDs), Roddy White (seven for 100) and tight end Tony Gonzalez (eight for 78, one TD) went crazy.

With Kaepernick running wild and throwing darts and the Ravens receivers running free in the secondary, this could be a higher scoring game than you might think on first glance.

Interesting players not named you-know-who

How about the 49ers' 35-year-old receiver Randy Moss, now a 14-year NFL veteran, playing in his second Super Bowl after making three key catches in the NFC title game?

Get ready to see reruns of Sandra Bullock saying, "Yo, deliverance. You see number 74? Well, that's my son.'' Ravens tackle Michael Oher, the real-life story behind the movie The Blind Side, will play in his first Super Bowl.

A couple of other Ravens could retire after this game, including center and Harvard grad Matt Birk, a six-time Pro Bowl player in his 15th season. Safety Ed Reed, 34, is in his 11th season and could write a cool final chapter considering he is headed home. He's from St. Rose, La., just outside of host city New Orleans.

Other stuff

The 49ers are trying to tie the Steelers with six Super Bowl victories. Maybe Ravens running back Ray Rice and QB Joe Flacco will give us a sneak preview of what the Bucs' Doug Martin and Josh Freeman can do someday. Old Bucs fans will be reminded about Trent Dilfer and Steve Young winning Super Bowls with Baltimore and San Francisco.

We will also hear a lot about a 73-year-old former coach at Western Kentucky named Jack. I'd tell you his last name, but I promised I wouldn't. (Hint: He has two sons coaching in this game.)

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