The Super Bowl experience was a little different for Jameel McCLain and Lardarius Webb.
The two defenders still had a chance to soak up the atmosphere and embrace the confetti as it fell to the turf, but they also had to watch Super Bowl XLVII from the sidelines hoping they would someday get a chance of their own to play on football's biggest stage.
"It's a great experience to an extent. It's an experience that I always dreamed of," McClain said before the game. "It's unfortunate that I'm not playing, but the show must go on and it always does."
McClain and Webb both finished the year on season-ending injured reserve. McClain's season ended after 13 games because of a spinal cord contusion, and Webb went down in Week 6 with a torn ACL. The injuries brought a disappointing conclusion to the year after the two players had just signed long-term deals to stay in Baltimore before the start of the season.
But now with the injuries behind them, Webb and McClain are both looking ahead to the 2013 season and are confident they will be back.
"Yes, I am coming back next season and everything is great," Webb said.
Before getting hurt, Webb was having a Pro Bowl caliber season and was starting to establish himself as one of the game's premier cover corners.
This is the second ACL tear that Webb has gone through in the past three seasons. He tore his left ACL near the end of his rookie season in 2009, but still made a quick recovery to get back in time for Week 1 of the 2010 campaign.
For McClain, the neck problem was the first serious injury he's dealt with during his career. He has visited with specialists to determine the exact problem and proper treatment, and to make sure that the injury isn't career threatening.
"We are still looking at Jameel," Head Coach John Harbaugh said during the end-of-season press conference. "But I am very optimistic based off of what Ozzie shared with us [after the season]. We are very optimistic about that."
McClain also expressed confidence that he would be back soon.
"The recovery is coming [along] good," McClain said. "I'm believing by training camp, OTA's, in that time I'll be back. We'll see. It's still a work in progress."
Getting McClain back is critical for a defense that is already losing linebacker Ray Lewis and could potentially lose fellow inside linebacker Dannell Ellerbe to free agency. McClain's return and re-signing Ellerbe would go a long way in offsetting the loss of Lewis.
The Ravens offseason program doesn't kick into high gear until late April, so the focus for McClain is take his time and gradually work his way back to the football field.
"All I have to do is rest," he said. "Rest is all that's on my mind, so I got nothing but the time to do it."