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Dowbiggin: The NFL’s many leaps of faith

Baltimore Ravens inside linebacker Ray Lewis celebrates victory over the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans, Louisiana, February 3, 2013.

JEFF HAYNES/REUTERS

The NFL had just discovered the culprits for the notorious 35-minute power failure during last night's Super Bowl: substitute referees.

Okay, maybe not, but in a season in which every plague from bogus zebras to Bountygate to concussion anxiety was visited on the NFL, the dimming of the lights at the Superdome in New Orleans was the kind of climax the No Fun League deserved. Namely, Beyonce going Burlesque and the steaming public relations present known as Ray Lewis (aka The Antler Man) winning the Super Bowl again.

They say the NFL is like religion. Appropriately, you must take the leap of faith on Lewis rehabbing a torn triceps in six weeks through the power of prayer. That injury generally takes six months to heal. But Lewis always seems to operate on his own rules. (As Wes Welker's wife pointed out, six kids by four women but he preaches the gospel of responsibility? Hmmm...)

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While the NFL simply allowed the Ray Lewis Long Travelling Fertilizer Tour to keep rolling, SB XLVIII broadcaster CBS was forced to present him in all his glory to America.

In his pregame interview with Shannon Sharpe of CBS, Lewis sought to deflect attention from his 2000 Super Bowl murder allegations. If we might paraphrase the logic, God doesn't operate on earth via guilty murderers, and I'm a devout dude, thus I must be innocent. Repeat if necessary.

Sharpe, hardly the Edward R,. Murrow of former players, bought the whole enchilada, giving Lewis blanket immunity by saying 'you can't change the past.' Boomer Esiason, Sharpe's colleague on CBS' panel, wasn't buying, saying Lewis failed to make his case that he isn't a guy who should have been tossed in jail.

Props to Esiason for not letting Sharpe's pious blather about Lewis go unchallenged. (Shannon with a bit too much Ray-Ray Kool Aid flowing?) At that point another voice emerged. Oh good, Dan Marino piped up to clear all this murky moral stuff with a discussion of his own prob... what? He changed the topic to football? The blaggard.

Finally, host James Brown informed us that, after all the Lewis melodrama, the interview with Sharpe had been taped before the deer antler drugging allegations had hit Lewis this week. The stale-dated chat was the journalistic equivalent of a 35-minute power outage. Lame.

Days numbered for massive, immobile defensive linemen

If there's a takeaway from this game it's that QBs like Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson and RG III likely have spelled the demise of massive, immobile defensive lineman. Once Kaepernick broke the pocket the Ravens massive front wall weren't fast enough to keep up. From now on NFL defences will have to run like CFL defensive players to control read option QBs like Kaepernick or Wilson, who'll only get better with time.

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We were interested in seeing if any NFL tall forehead mentioned that San Fran's read option has been going for, oh... years in the CFL. Green Bay wishes it had taken a few minutes to diagnose how to stop it from CFL defensive coaches. But Calgary Stampeder star Keon Raymond was on top of Colin Kaepernick's game on Twitter. " @Mr_Raymond25 The #Ravens should of contacted. A @CFL team to learn how to stop the read option... We know how to play."

Phil Simms don't shine

We like Phil Simms well enough as an analyst, even if he says stuff like "the quarterbacks are really throwing the ball" (as opposed to throwing Rosenthal china?). A little fussy sometimes, but Simms usually sees the game well. Sunday was not one of those days.

He had the Super Bowl jitters in the early going when he whiffed on calling out Baltimore's ill-begotten field goal fake in the second quarter. Simms covered up for John Harbaugh, saying he couldn't blame the Ravens coach. (Then what are you doing in the TV booth?) Then Simms came back from the commercial to say maybe the call has been ill-advised after all. Which was it?

Late in the game, it was the same as Baltimore, up by five, lined up to punt in the dying seconds. Nantz suggested the Raven take a safety, kill some time and punt the ball. Simms kiboshed the idea as wrong. Then Ravens coach John Harbaugh took Nantz's advice, leaving Simms stumblin' and bumblin' to look in control as the move worked like a charm.

As for Nantz, he always sounds like he's welcoming you into a funeral parlour with that unctuous tone. But he survived Simms' gaffes and the power outage with his dignity intact. So did CBS, which defied the over/ under of 4.5 shots of the Harbaughs' parents in the stands by going to them just once.

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Blacking out the blackout

It'll be interesting to see how, if at all, the power loss affects CBS' ratings.

CBS had sideline reporters galore on the Baltimore sideline but no one could tell us why John Harbaugh was losing his mind as the power delay progressed. Amazing CBS didn't presell the power outage along with everything else. "This blackout brought to you by Budweiser, drink yourself into a very dark place..."

And chalk talks with guys in suits on fake grass are well intentioned, but has anyone told them that computer-generated graphics have been around for 20 years? The CBS guys looked like they were about to form a Grecian urn on the set.

dowbboy@shaw.ca/ @dowbboy

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