How does a quarterback, helpless on the sidelines, deal with being on the brink of their first Super Bowl win? Tom Brady turned away, unable to watch. Eli Manning was giddy, probably planning to ride the Teacups over and over again. Joe Flacco? He was planning to cheat. Maybe he is elite.
The NFL has released its "Sound FX" for the final few minutes of the Super Bowl, and as always, it's fantastic, and has more Jim Harbaugh freakouts. Football is inherently cinematic, but having ground-level audio from mic'ed up players adds a human aspect that's lost while watching in realtime.
But let's examine this segment, on the Ravens sidelines as the 49ers prepared for a last-ditch kick return with four seconds left. If Ted Ginn Jr. returned it for a touchdown, 49ers win. If not, Ravens win. Joe Flacco was prepared to do anything to make sure he didn't go all the way. (Video by SBNation.)
Flacco (jokingly, we think and hope) tells Dennis Pitta and Marshal Yanda that if Ginn breaks through the coverage team, they should run on the field and bring him down. He says he's willing to do it too. This would have been the greatest ending in Super Bowl history.
"I don't know what the rule is on that," Flacco said. Unfortunately for his grand plan, the officials knew. According to the NFL rulebook,
If a substitute enters the field of play or the end zone while the ball is in play, it is an illegal substitution. If an illegal substitute inferes with the play, it may be a palpably unfair act.
For a palpably unfair act: Offender may be disqualified. The referee, after consulting his crew, enforces any such distance penalty as they consider equitable and irrespective of any other specified code penalty. The referee may award a score.
Had the world been graced with the stunning sight of Ted Ginn streaking down the sideline, only to be swarmed by helmet-less Ravens off the bench, the officials would have flagged it and given the 49ers the touchdown anyway. And then Ravens fans, convinced that Ginn would have been chased down legally and would not have scored, would burn down Flacco's house, New Orleans, and indeed all of Earth.