Culliver's stock takes bigger hit in Super Bowl XLVII


Culliver's stock takes bigger hit in Super Bowl XLVII

NEW ORLEANS It was Schadenfreude Sunday for Chris Culliver.

After the Niners corner made offensive comments at Tuesdays media day about how hed receive a gay teammate, the second-year player was grilled and vilified.

On Sunday, anyone wishing to see him taken down another notch got their wish.

Asked about Culliver's play after San Francisco's 34-31 loss, Niners coach Jim Harbaugh said, "I think he did fine."

The tape may yield a different conclusion.

The most notable instance of Cullivers Travails came in the first half when Culliver lost Jacoby Jones on a third-and-10 moonball with 1:58 left in the first half.

As Jones circled back to make a play on the underthrown ball, Culliver sailed pastlike a kid jumping after an escaping balloon.

Jones caught the ball, tumbled to the ground inside the 5 and was able to get to his feet, run across the field and score to give the Ravens a 21-3 lead.

It was the most conspicuous play involving Culliver but it wasnt the only one.

Earlier in the first half, Flacco running for his life as he rolled to his right on a third-and-7 play found Anquan Boldin for a 30-yard gain down to the Niners 34-yard line. It was a pass seemingly thrown up for grabs and it was between Boldin and Culliver to come down with it. Boldin pulled it in. Then yakked in Cullivers face after the catch.

The other play on which Culliver got caught up in the wash was a 23-yard dart to tight end Ed Dickson on which Culliver got stuck going for the ball andor the tackle and wound up getting neither. Three plays later, the Niners were in the end zone with a 14-3 lead.

In the fourth, Culliver was flagged for a questionable pass interference on a third-and-9 play, extending a Ravens drive that ended with a field goal.

Asked about that play, Harbaugh opined, "I didn't think that was an interference. You're talking about the one that extended their drive when they made their second-to-last drive with the ball? Didn't see that as (pass interference)."

It was an inauspicious ending to a week Culliver would no doubt like to forget. But its worth wondering if hell soon be able to.

Belichick on Long's sack: One of the best defensive plays of the year

Belichick on Long's sack: One of the best defensive plays of the year

It came against a rookie quarterback. It came against an offense that averages a league-worst 15.0 points per game. It came against an offense that has fewer yards than any other. 

Still there are signs that Bill Belichick is pretty pleased with where his defense is after beating the Rams 26-10 on Sunday. One came on Wednesday when published its "Belichick Breakdown" for a closer look at a handful of plays from the team's most recent win.

Belichick called his team's third-and-eight stop with about 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter "probably one of the best good, team defensive plays we've had all year."

The Patriots show a five-man front, but linebacker Kyle Van Noy feigns a rush only to drop into coverage.

"Van Noy in here does a good job on the rush," Belichick said, "and also on the coverage on the back. Just good team defense. Good pass coverage down the field. The quarterback really doesn't end up having a lot of time, but there's no one to throw it to right away."

Belichick noted that all four rushers -- Chris Long, Trey Flowers, Dont'a Hightower and Rob Ninkovich -- all are able to pressure Jared Goff on the play. Combined with strong coverage in the secondary, the Rams nver really had a chance.

Belichick said it looked like a "tidal wave" of defenders bearing down on the quarterback.

"Long wins here . . . on the inside spin," Belichick said, "and Trey Flowers and Hightower both win on the little twist game inside. Then that's Rob with good speed-to-power on [Rams tackle Rob] Havenstein on the outside. Four good rushers. Plus a fifth guy...Van Noy getting that two-for-one on the guard and the back.

"Good team defense. That's great to see. A lot of hard work an execution on the practice field to make that happen."

Harbaugh on Belichick: 'I feel like we have a good relationship'

Harbaugh on Belichick: 'I feel like we have a good relationship'

FOXBORO -- They sounded like a couple of old pals. 

First it was Patriots coach Bill Belichick, who spoke of Ravens coach John Harbaugh during a conference call like one of his favorite fellow lacrosse dads.

"John and I saw a game a couple of years ago, a [Johns] Hopkins vs. Maryland game," Belichick said, adding that Harbaugh's love for the sport is just starting to blossom. "Yeah, I think John is seeing the light."

Belichick added that the two might be closer if they weren't competing so often, both in-season on the field and for free agents in the offseason. 

"As you know, we get into a situation like we’re in now where they have a good team, we have a good team, we’re playing a big game on Monday night," Belichick said. "Both teams are going to do everything they can to compete as hard as they can on Monday night. That’s what it is and that’s what we all signed up for. We all know that’s a part of it.

"When we’re not going head-to-head, which isn’t very often because we compete against each other in the offseason, we compete against each other to build our team and so forth, it just puts things in a little bit of a different situation."

During his press conference with reporters on Wednesday, Harbaugh echoed Belichick's sentiments. Belichick was famously one of Harbaugh's biggest supporters earlier in his career, calling the Ravens on Harbaugh's behalf when the franchise was looking for a new head coach. And if only they weren't so frequently competing against each other, they might be even closer, Harbaugh indicated. 

"I feel like we have a good relationship," Harbaugh said. "Like you said, we're probably not socializing that much, but I don't know how many coaches really do. We're all so busy. I'll see him or any coach at the Combine or at the owner's meetings, and we have a chance to talk. It's always good. I have a ton of respect for him. I really like him as a person. I think he's a great coach -- greatest coach of this generation. He's earned that title.

"And I study him. I've always studied him. I've always studied coach Belichick from when I first met him when I was an assistant at the University of Cincinnati, and he came in and just was great to be around.  [We have a] similar background with the special teams and that sort of thing. All of that kind of goes out the window when you compete against one another. It's like anything else, you want to win. I'm sure he feels the same way."

The recent history between their respective franchises is rife with emotion: There was Baltimore's irate reaction to Belichick's unusual formations in the AFC Divisional Round two seasons ago; there was the Ravens' supposed involvement in sparking Deflategate; and there was Harbaugh's subsequent denial. But Belichick and Harbaugh made it sound on Wednesday as if all's good between them.