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What we learned in first half of Super Bowl XLVII

NEW ORLEANS -- Joe Flacco has come to play.

The Ravens quarterback was outstanding through the first two quarters of Super Bowl XLVII, helping Baltimore build a 21-6 lead over the San Francisco 49ers at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

Flacco -- well protected so far -- finished the half 13-of-20 passing for 192 yards and three touchdowns, completing a string of clutch passes along the way. Flacco and his receivers were in sync from the start.

Passes that Flacco would have missed earlier this season, he made look easy in the first half. A 9-yard connection to tight end Dennis Pitta came with Flacco under pressure and tossing the ball off his back foot. Five plays later, with Flacco on the run, he fired a 30-yard rope down the sideline to wide receiver Anquan Boldin.

Flacco's first two touchdown strikes -- also to Pitta and Boldin -- capped clock-chewing drives. Flacco's third, a 56-yard bomb to Jacoby Jones, dropped the 49ers into hot water.

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Some other first-half takeaways:

» Baltimore's defense has done its job against San Francisco's ground game and contained Colin Kaepernick, who became the first 49ers quarterback in franchise history to throw an interception in the Super Bowl. Ed Reed's pick of a bad Kaepernick pass was a crushing blow for the 49ers.

» 49ers safety Donte Whitner has struggled. He was caught out of position on Flacco's first-quarter touchdown to Boldin and again on the long strike to Jones.

» The Ravens have done a nice job of using both running backs Bernard Pierce and Ray Rice. Baltimore handed Pierce the ball three times in a row on its second scoring drive, and Rice finished the half with 31 yards on 10 carries. The success of the passing game has taken some of the weight off Rice -- so has the emergence of Pierce, a surprisingly powerful back in short-yardage situations.

» We saw the 49ers operate their running attack out of a Wing-T formation for a stretch, but the lack of production from San Francisco's ground game is disappointing from a team that makes a living off pounding the ball.

» Weirdest play of the game? Baltimore kicker Justin Tucker's botched gallop on fourth-and-9 from the San Francisco 14. He was tackled 1 yard shy of the first-down marker. The 49ers took over on downs.

On to Beyoncé.

Follow Marc Sessler on Twitter @MarcSesslerNFL.

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