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Jimmy Smith stands by defense on Michael Crabtree

Baltimore Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith made the biggest play of life Sunday night, breaking up a Colin Kaepernick pass intended for San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree that essentially decided Super Bowl XLVII.

Of course, whether Smith's coverage of Crabtree was legal is a matter of opinion. The Niners -- including coach Jim Harbaugh -- believe Smith should've been flagged for defensive holding or pass interference on the fourth-and-goal play from the Ravens' 5-yard line.

Smith -- as you might imagine -- believes his coverage was clean. Smith was a call-in guest on ESPN Radio in Denver on Friday, where he explained his version of events.

"He likes to run into you and then push you off," Smith said of Crabtree, via (He's) a big, strong, physical receiver, so I'm your DB, I'm kind of taught to not let that happen. ...And that's the kind of way the game was played that day so the refs just let it play out that way."

Smith was asked if he got away with a hold.

"No. ... If you look at the play closely, you see him kind of push off of my helmet immediately," he said. "So as a DB, what do you do? ... If he's pushing off you gotta make sure you got some type of grip so he doesn't push off of you. If I never touch him at all and he catches the ball, then it'd be San Francisco winning and why didn't Jimmy make that play? So I'm happy with the way it turned out."

We still think the game officials were right in not making a call, but it's clear a case can be made either way. Smith is a prime example of the thin line between hero and goat in a game of this magnitude.

Follow Dan Hanzus on Twitter @DanHanzus.

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