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2013 Super Bowl Grades: Power outage gives game new life

By Will Brinson | NFL Writer

NEW ORLEANS -- It was like night and day. Literally -- when the power went out at the Superdome on Sunday night during the Super Bowl, the Ravens led the 49ers 28-6 and the Super Bowl looked like it would be a laugher. In the 10 minutes immediately following the blackout, San Francisco flipped a switch and poured things on, going on a 17-0 run and bringing them within a single score of the Ravens.

What's more amazing is that it took a total lack of energy to give the Super Bowl a real spark and help turn it into one of the better NFL finales that we've ever seen. Without the blackout, this game was a very, very good one. With the blackout, it was a surreal experience, an all-timer of a game that no one will ever forget.

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It's awkward, though. The 49ers' comeback from 22 points down would've shattered the record for biggest Super Bowl comeback; the record is 10 points. What would John Harbaugh say about having a non-scheduled, 30-minute break that sucked the life out of his team if they lost? What would Jim say if they won?

Because when they lost, he threw out some pretty garbage-worthy coach-speak, saying he didn't "know what percentage it affected us."

Whatever, it helped them. But why did it take a second 30-minute break -- one without Beyoncé jamming out on the field -- for the Niners to get it together? They ultimately ended up having enough time to seal the deal, but Baltimore held them off. And as terrifying as that might've been for the Ravens, they said following the game that it was completely fitting for their team and their city.

"It's unbelievable. We don't make it easy," Joe Flacco said while raising the Lombardi Trophy as the Super Bowl MVP. "That's the way the city of Baltimore is. That's the way we are."

Ravens coach John Harbaugh agreed completely while also calling his handshake with his brother Jim the "hardest thing I've ever experienced."

"How could it be any other way?" Harbaugh said. "It's never pretty. It's never perfect, but it is us. And that's the way we do it."

He agreed that the 49ers were able to "turn the momentum of the game" when they emerged from the blackout. It's true; they were sluggish and nervous and sloppy before the Superdome blacked out.

When they returned, it looked like the teams flipped on each other; the Ravens couldn't stop San Francisco on defense, Flacco couldn't execute the throws that he was spinning in the first half and Colin Kaepernick was no longer overwhelmed by the stage.

How that happens in 30 minutes with no power in the stadium is beyond me. Maybe Jim Harbaugh managed to fire up his team in a way that he couldn't at halftime. Or maybe everyone just collectively decided to throw caution to the wind and try to do what they couldn't in the first half.

They ultimately did, and they did it out of an impossible-to-forget situation featuring the power shutting down in the most watched television event of the year. That it led to a last-minute showdown between the future of the game (Kaep) and a guy on his way out (Ray Lewis) while pitting two brothers coaching against each other only exacerbated the drama.

It sometimes takes quirky events to make great games legendary. You just don't expect it to be because a total lack of power managed to completely revitalize the team that looked completely powerless in the first half.

TeamGradeAnalysis
B+Absolutely tremendous job by the Baltimore coaching staff to plan out this game in the early going. They were executing on offense: Jim Caldwell called a perfect game early, Joe Flacco was on fire, Anquan Boldin was an absolute beast, and even Ed Dickson was making tough catches. They were executing on defense (with Ray Lewis being the only real execption, awkwardly). They missed a fake field goal, but Jacoby Jones' return was huge. The power outage sucked the life out of Baltimore, and the result was pretty terrifying if you were rooting for the Ravens. But they ended up holding on and making a huge stop late, so it's hard to rip them too much.
C+Everyone thought the 49ers were the team ready to play football this week. Um, whoops? Colin Kaepernick was overwhelmed on the stage in the early going, coming out of the gates sluggishly and struggling until after the break. The defense was getting torched, with Chris Culliver being particularly embarrassed by the Ravens' wideouts. They eventually got their act to together, made a game out of it and had a shot at winning the Super Bowl by converting a fourth down. But they came up just short.
TeamGradeAnalysis
Chris Culliver
FChris Culliver drew headlines all week long for some questionable decisions that he made while speaking with the media. He drew headlines all night long on Sunday for repeatedly getting torched. Talk about a no-good, horrible week for Cully. One that he would like to forget.
TeamGradeAnalysis
Anquan Boldin
ABoldin was straight beast mode on Sunday for the Ravens. He hauled in a big touchdown catch early on and ended up leading the team in receiving yards with 104. Boldin has put the passing game on his back at times this postseason and did it again Sunday. He's getting props here, but he'll remain one of the more underrated receivers in the NFL. Good for him to get a ring.
TeamGradeAnalysis
Joe Flacco
ACue up the elite argument. Sigh. It's irrelevant at this point because Flacco was dynamite early on for Baltimore, and he has a Super Bowl ring now. He's going to get paid after going 22-of-33 for 287 and three touchdowns. Those are studly Super Bowl numbers, and it's going to equate to Scrooge McDuck money.
TeamGradeAnalysis
Colin Kaepernick
B-Kaepernick became the first 49ers quarterback to throw an interception in the Super Bowl. And he kind of stunk early on in the game, helping to put the 49ers in a hole. But he showed later in the game why he's so special, leading the 49ers back into contention with spectacular play after spectacular play.
TeamGradeAnalysis
Jacoby Jones
A+You could almost argue that Jones could've been the MVP in this game but it's no surprise that Flacco got the hardware. Jones scored twice for Baltimore, catching a 56-yard touchdown pass from Flacco that featured some insane scrambling on his part to get into the end zone. And then he took a 108-yard kickoff return to the house in the third quarter in what looked like the final blow to the Niners. Pretty sweet day for a kid from New Orleans.
TeamGradeAnalysis
Person Responsible for the Superdome Losing Power
F-Whoever this anonymous person is (my best guess -- Jim Harbaugh!) he deserves a scolding for nearly wrecking the Super Bowl. Things ended up working out OK because we got an amazing game out of it, but that was a pretty hairy situation for a while, especially with the Ravens waxing the 49ers. Also, 500 sports writers stuffed into a box without air conditioning is dangerous.

 
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