Ravens overcome power failure and recharged 49ers
Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis marked his retirement from the game with his second Super Bowl title in New Orleans on Sunday night. Photograph: Jeff Haynes/Reuters
Baltimore Ravens 34 San Francisco 49ers 31:The lights went out at the Superdome during the Super Bowl. Only then did the game really begin.
In a sporting event that has seen spectacular finishes as well as an infamous wardrobe malfunction during a half-time performance, the electricity at the Superdome stole the show on Sunday night, interrupting the third quarter for more than a half-hour and seemingly shifting the momentum of the game in a dramatic way.
Moments after the Ravens Jacoby Jones returned the opening kick-off of the second half 108 yards for a touchdown, giving Baltimore a 22-point lead, the stadium’s power failed. That plunged the teams, the 71,024 fans and millions of television viewers into low light and raised the sort of question that sports fans love to ponder: How might such a weird interruption affect the game?
After 34 minutes in which players stretched and Ravens coach John Harbaugh screamed at a league official, play resumed and the teams had their answer. The energy had leaked out of the Ravens during the unexpected break, allowing the San Francisco 49ers to surge to within two points, but Baltimore held on for a 34-31 win.
Dominated first half
It was the first Super Bowl in New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina turned the Superdome into a shelter instead of a stadium, and the first time brothers opposed each other in the game as coaches. Jim Harbaugh, who, at 49, is a year younger than John, saw his 49ers come up short on a last-minute drive inside the Ravens’ 10-yard line.
The Ravens had dominated the first half, with quarterback Joe Flacco nimbly escaping pressure to throw three touchdown passes, including a 56-yarder to Jones on third and 10 in which Jones fell when he caught the ball at about the nine-yard line, got up and outsprinted the 49ers defence to the end zone.
After the 49ers settled for a short field goal at the end of the first half, and Jones opened the second half with his touchdown return, it appeared the Ravens would cruise to a victory, a triumph of the older brother who had long been overshadowed athletically by his younger sibling. No team had ever overcome a deficit of more than 10 points to win the Super Bowl.
But the 49ers have been slow to start throughout the post-season, gaining energy as gradually as the stadium lights did. This was the third straight play-off game in which the 49ers’ opponent scored first, and the long game delay seemed to steal the Ravens’ momentum and give the 49ers a few minutes to regroup from the shock of Jones’ return.
Colin Kaepernick passed to Michael Crabtree, for the 49ers’ first touchdown. Then, after the 49ers finally brought Flacco down on a third-down sack, Kaepernick, showing off his powerful arm, drove the 49ers again.
When running back Frank Gore ran around the right side for another touchdown, the Ravens appeared flat-footed. Then Ravens running back Ray Rice fumbled after a short catch, and the 49ers recovered.
The Ravens continued to hurt themselves when they committed a penalty on 49ers kicker David Akers – on a field goal attempt that he missed wide left, giving Akers another chance. Akers drilled the field goal on the second try and the deficit was five points.
Kaepernick had recovered as surely as his team had. He had appeared shaky in the first half, and he was intercepted once by Ed Reed – the first time a 49ers quarterback had been intercepted in Super Bowl history.
But the Ravens were resilient, again. So when they got the ball back after the 49ers’ onslaught, they went on a long methodical drive. After 12 plays, 71 yards and 5:16 of clock time, Justin Tucker kicked a 19-yard field goal. That gave the Ravens an eight-point edge.
Then Kaepernick used his legs for the touchdown. With 9:57 remaining in the game, Jim Harbaugh opted for a two-point conversion to tie the score. With a strong Ravens rush up the middle, Kaepernick had to hurry and he threw the ball wildly away.
Caldwell then put the game in Flacco’s hands to stabilise the Ravens. And he lured 49ers cornerback Chris Culliver into a defensive pass interference penalty that continued a drive. And on third and less than a yard, he threw to receiver Anquan Boldin on the right sideline. Still, on third and two, Flacco could not find an open receiver, and after his pass fell incomplete, the Ravens kicked a 38-yard field goal that gave them a five-point lead.
It proved to be enough when Kaepernick’s final pass, under intense pressure, sailed out of the end zone. – New York Times