NEW ORLEANS — Joe Flacco and the Balitmore Ravens were turning the Super Bowl into a rout when, without even a flicker of warning, the power went off.
When the game resumed 34 minutes later, the San Francisco 49ers were the ones playing lights out.Instead of a blowout, the blackout turned the big game into a shootout.
The Ravens survived the frenzied comeback by the 49ers for a thrilling 34-31 win at the Superdome on Sunday night and their second NFL championship in 11 years.
"How could it be any other way? It's never pretty. It's never perfect. But it's us," coach John Harbaugh said after winning the sibling showdown with younger brother Jim. "It was us today."
Leading by 22 points when most of the Superdome lights and the scoreboards went dark early in the third quarter, the Ravens used a last-gasp defensive stand to hold on after the momentum strangely swung to the 49ers.
San Francisco receiver Michael Crabtree was bumped in the end zone on the 49ers' final offensive play -- the contact appeared incidental -- but coach Jim Harbaugh insisted a penalty should have been called.
"There's no question in my mind that there was a pass interference and then a hold," Jim Harbaugh said.
As for the foul-up at America's biggest sporting event, officials revealed that an "abnormality" in the power system triggered an automatic shutdown, forcing backup systems to kick in. But no one was sure what caused the initial problem.
Everything changed after that, though, until Ray Lewis and Co. shut it down. But there were plenty of white-knuckle moments and the Ravens (14-6) had to make four stops inside their 7 at the end.
"I think it speaks to our resolve, speaks to our determination, speaks to our mental toughness," John Harbaugh said. "That is what wins and loses games."
For a Super Bowl with so many subplots, it almost had to end with a flourish.Flacco's arrival as a championship quarterback coincides with Lewis' retirement -- with a second Super Bowl ring no less. The win capped a sensational month since the star linebacker announced he was leaving the game after 17 Hall of Fame-caliber years.
At 4 hours, 14 minutes, it was the longest Super Bowl ever.The loss of power left players from both sides stretching and chatting with each other. It also slowed Baltimore's surge, and that was considerable after Jacoby Jones'108-yard kickoff return and Flacco's three touchdown passes made it 28-6.