Lights out: Ravens beat 49ers 34-31 in Super Bowl
The Associated Press | February 05,2013
Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, left, and quarterback Joe Flacco celebrate after Sunday’s 34-31 victory over the San Francisco 49ers during Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans.
NEW ORLEANS — Joe Flacco and the Baltimore 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.
Flacco’s big start boosted him to the MVP award.
“They have to give it to one guy and I’m not going to complain that I got it,” said Flacco, who soon will get a rich new contract. His current deal expired with this win.
Down by three TDs, back came San Francisco (13-5-1) in search of its sixth Lombardi Trophy in as many tries.
“As far as the power going out, that didn’t change anything for us,” tight end Vernon Davis said.
Yet they got back in the game almost immediately.
Michael Crabtree’s 31-yard touchdown reception on which he broke two tackles made it 28-13. A couple minutes later, Frank Gore’s 6-yard run followed a 32-yard punt return by Ted Ginn Jr., and the 49ers were within eight.
Ray Rice’s fumble at his 24 led to David Akers’ 34-yard field goal, but Baltimore woke up for a long drive leading to rookie Justin Tucker’s 19-yard field goal.
San Francisco wasn’t done challenging, though, and Colin Kaepernick’s 15-yard TD run, the longest for a quarterback in a Super Bowl, made it 31-29. A 2-point conversion pass failed when the Ravens blitzed.
Tucker added a 38-yarder with 4:19 remaining, setting up the frantic finish.
Kaepernick couldn’t get the 49ers into the end zone on the final three plays, and Ravens punter Sam Koch took a safety for the final score with 4 seconds left. Koch’s free kick was returned by Ginn to midfield as time ran out.
The Harbaughs then met at midfield amid the Ravens’ confetti-laden celebrations.
“It’s very tough,” John Harbaugh said, referring to their conversation. “It’s a lot tougher than I thought it was going to be. It’s very painful.”
Only one other championship game in the NFL’s 80-year title game history, Pittsburgh’s 35-31 win over Dallas in 1979, featured both teams scoring at least 30 points.
In the first half, Flacco was as brilliant as Tom Brady, Joe Montana or Terry Bradshaw ever were in the NFL’s biggest game. The only quarterback to win a playoff game in each of his first five seasons — his coach holds the same distinction — was nearly perfect. Overall, Flacco threw for 11 touchdowns to tie a postseason record, and had no interceptions.
The Ravens stumbled into the playoffs with four defeats in its last five regular-season games as Lewis recovered from a torn right triceps and Flacco struggled. Harbaugh even fired his offensive coordinator in December, a stunning move with the postseason so close.
But that — and every other move Harbaugh, Flacco and the Ravens made since — were right on target. Just like Flacco’s TD passes of 13 yards to Anquan Boldin, 1 to Dennis Pitta and 56 to Jones in the first half, tying a Super Bowl record.
New Orleans native Jones, one of the heroes in a double-overtime playoff win at Denver, seemed to put the game away with his record 108-yard sprint with the second-half kickoff.
Soon after, the lights went out — and when they came back on, the Ravens were almost powerless to slow the 49ers.
Until the final moments.
“The final series of Ray Lewis’ career was a goal-line stand,” Harbaugh said.
Baltimore 34, San Francisco 31
Baltimore 7 14 7 6-34
San Francisco 3 3 17 8-31
Bal-Boldin 13 pass from Flacco (Tucker kick), 10:36.
SF-FG Akers 36, 3:58.
Bal-Pitta 1 pass from Flacco (Tucker kick), 7:10.
Bal-J.Jones 56 pass from Flacco (Tucker kick), 1:45.
SF-FG Akers 27, :00.
Bal-J.Jones 108 kickoff return (Tucker kick), 14:49.
SF-Crabtree 31 pass from Kaepernick (Akers kick), 7:20.
SF-Gore 6 run (Akers kick), 4:59.
SF-FG Akers 34, 3:10.
Bal-FG Tucker 19, 12:54.
SF-Kaepernick 15 run (pass failed), 9:57.
Bal-FG Tucker 38, 4:19.
SF-Safety, Koch runs out of end zone (Culliver), :04.
First downs 21 23
Total Net Yards 367 468
Rushes-yards 35-93 29-182
Passing 274 286
Punt Returns 2-28 1-32
Kickoff Returns 5-206 4-106
Interceptions Ret. 1-6 0-0
Comp-Att-Int 22-33-0 16-28-1
Sacked-Yards Lost 2-13 3-16
Punts 3-47.0 3-53.0
Fumbles-Lost 2-1 1-1
Penalties-Yards 2-20 5-33
Time of Possession 32:23 27:37
RUSHING-Baltimore, Rice 20-59, Pierce 12-33, Tucker 1-8, Leach 1-1, Koch 1-(minus 8). San Francisco, Gore 19-110, Kaepernick 7-62, James 3-10.
PASSING-Baltimore, Flacco 22-33-0-287. San Francisco, Kaepernick 16-28-1-302.
RECEIVING-Baltimore, Boldin 6-104, Pitta 4-26, Rice 4-19, Leach 3-10, Dickson 2-37, T.Smith 2-35, J.Jones 1-56. San Francisco, V.Davis 6-104, Crabtree 5-109, Walker 3-48, Moss 2-41.
MISSED FIELD GOALS-None.