BALTIMORE — Winning a Super Bowl can leave a lot of people speechless, but Dannell Ellerbe isn’t one of them.
“Honestly it’s been awesome, great, unbelievable,” Ellerbe said. “How ever many ways you can say awesome is how I feel right now.”
The former Richmond Senior standout led the Baltimore Ravens with nine tackles in its 34-31 win over the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII.
Ellerbe was a part of two of the biggest plays at the end of the game which made the difference between whether the Ravens or the 49ers were going to walk out of the Superdome as champions.
Trailing by five and with less than two minutes remaining in the game, San Francisco faced a fourth-and-goal from the Baltimore 5. The Ravens’ defensive staff called for an all-out blitz with man-to-man coverage in the secondary. At the snap, Ellerbe shot through the 49ers’ offensive line untouched and before he could bring down quarterback Colin Kaepernick in the backfield, Kaepernick lofted the ball towards Michael Crabtree and the right corner of the end zone.
“I wanted to get the sack,” Ellerbe said. “It would have been a great way to end it.”
Instead, Ellerbe forced a hurried pass, which fell harmlessly to the astroturf, and the Ravens were 106 seconds away from earning the organization’s second Super Bowl victory.
Earlier in the drive, San Francisco 49ers running back Frank Gore broke free down for what appeared to be the go-ahead touchdown. Gore was hit by Ed Reed around the Baltimore 13, but was able to tip-toe down the sideline for another six yards until Ellerbe pushed him out at the 7. The stat crew credited Reed with a solo tackle on the play, but Ellerbe insured Gore wasn’t going to score.
After Kaepernick’s final throw of the evening, Ellerbe walked to the sideline thinking “we are going to win.”
When Ted Ginn Jr. was tackled at midfield on the final play, Ellerbe sprinted onto the field with his teammates and trademark dreadlocks flowing behind him.
“That was out of the blue,” Ellerbe said laughing. “I didn’t know what I was doing.”
Ellerbe added his night got a little better after leaving the Superdome as the Ravens attended a private party in New Orleans where Mary J. Blige and Frankie Beverly and Maze performed. In addition, Super Bowl halftime performer Beyonce and her husband, Jay-Z, attended the event.
It was just beginning.
Two days after the Super Bowl, nearly 200,000 people took part in festivities in Baltimore at City Hall, M&T Bank Stadium as well as lining the victory parade route to catch a glimpse of the team.
“That was the craziest thing I have ever seen,” Ellerbe said. “It seemed like the whole state of Maryland was there. We had to drive in the emergency lane all the way to the stadium.”
Those memories could be bittersweet for Ellerbe, who became an unrestricted free agent after the Super Bowl. Emerging as a starter midway through the season and with the retirement of Ray Lewis, it would appear Baltimore would need to keep Ellerbe in the fold. However, the organization has several other free agents it will want to re-sign as well, including quarterback Joe Flacco.
Baltimore owner Steve Bisciotti and general manager Ozzie Newsome have discussed their course of action regarding the team’s free agents.
“We’re not going to get caught up in the moment and do things to our salary cap and make decisions in the euphoria of winning that could hurt us in 2014 and 2015, like we did in 2001,” Bisciotti said to the Associated Press. “Every single veteran (in 2001) was restructured so that, I think, every single veteran could stay, then we ended up losing so many people the next year. We don’t want to do that.”
Newsome added he knows the defensive side of the ball is going to be a priority during the offseason.
“We think we’ve got to get better at defensive tackle,” Newsome said. “We know that we have one linebacker retiring and one that’s a free agent. We’ve got a safety that’s a free agent and some young guys that have yet to step up. So we would say the middle of the defense is probably the one area that we will concentrate on.”
Ellerbe has stated he isn’t going to worry about the future because it is out of his hands.
“I’m going to let my agent do what he’s paid to do,” Ellerbe said. “I know it’s a business, but hopefully I will be back.”
Until then, Ellerbe is going to relax and enjoy his moment in the sun.
“I’m going to watch the game over and over again,” Ellerbe said. “I’m going to watch it until I’m sick of it. If this is a dream, I don’t want to wake up.”
— Sports editor Shawn Stinson can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @scgolfer.