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.
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.
|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.|
|A||Cue 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.|
|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.|
|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.|