As the Super Bowl came to a thrilling end on Sunday, several players with roots from the state of Utah earned themselves a ring as the Baltimore Ravens defeated the San Francisco 49ers 34–31.
Three Latter-day Saint players from three different universities won a Super Bowl ring for the Ravens on Sunday, completing the saga every peewee football player dreams of in their backyard.
Dennis Pitta finished his third season in the NFL on Sunday. Pitta was drafted in the fourth round of the 2010 NFL Draft out of BYU, where he still holds the all-time record for receptions at 221. Pitta caught a 1-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Joe Flacco in the second quarter, extending the Ravens’ lead to 14–3.
Pitta became just the fourth BYU grad to score a touchdown in the Super Bowl, joining quarterback Jim McMahon of the Chicago Bears, wide receiver Golden Richards of the Dallas Cowboys and hall-of-fame quarterback Steve Young of the 49ers.
Joining Pitta as an LDS player who made an impact in the Super Bowl is Paul Kruger, a defensive end for the Ravens who played his college ball for the Utah Utes. Kruger had two sacks on 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and three tackles. Kruger had his start at Timpanogos High School in Orem, where he was ranked in the top 30 in the nation — as a quarterback. He made the transition to the defensive line after signing with the Utes.
The third LDS player to play in the Super Bowl is the Ravens’ defensive end on the other side of the line — Haloti Ngata. Ngata had two tackles in the game before leaving with an injury. He almost committed to BYU but eventually signed his letter of intent to play for the University of Oregon. Ngata started his football career with Highland High School in Salt Lake City, dividing his time between the football team and the perennial national powerhouse Highland Rugby Team.
The Ravens took advantage of two 49er turnovers in the first half, building as much as a 28–6 lead in the third quarter before half of the stadium’s lights went out due to a power surge, resulting in a 34-minute delay.
After that, the 49ers went on a 23–3 run over the next quarter to cut the lead to 31–29. After Baltimore scored another field goal, San Francisco drove down within the 10-yard line but couldn’t put the ball in the end zone. With 11 seconds to go, Ravens’ punter Sam Koch ran around in the end zone before taking a safety to run off seven seconds. The 49ers had one chance on a punt return, which was unsuccessful, and the Ravens took home the Lombardi Trophy.