Blackout seemed to spark 49ers
Published: Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 3:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 11:29 p.m.
NEW ORLEANS — Where were you when the lights went out?
The 49ers were in the dumps. They had just fallen behind the Baltimore Ravens 28-6 in Super Bowl XLVII, and were desperately trying to get something rolling when most of the lights in the Superdome suddenly went out.
Players retreated to their sidelines, NFL executives appeared on the field and began to talk to head coaches Jim and John Harbaugh, and the crowd mostly tittered. It was eerily reminiscent of a Monday-night game at Candlestick Park in 2011, when a blown transformer knocked out the lights twice, before the game and again during the action.
This time, the lights remained out for 20 minutes, and play was suspended for 34 minutes. Air conditioners, escalators and, for a while, Internet connections also went kaput.
“The funny thing is, the light was actually really good when the lights went out,” Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco said. “I don't know what it would have looked like on TV, but I think the receivers still would've been able to see the ball. The biggest issue was with the headsets.”
The Ravens' headsets were working. The 49ers' were not.
Strangely, the delay seemed to spark the Niners. They immediately commenced their comeback attempt when power returned, scoring 17 consecutive points to get back in the game.
All of the 49ers polled on the subject insisted that the outage had nothing to do with their comeback. The Ravens thought it might have helped the 49ers.
“I thought old Jim Harbaugh had a little trick under his sleeve,” Baltimore linebacker Terrell Suggs said. “He ran into that Ravens buzz saw. He was like, 'Hey, turn those lights off. Red team go, red team go.'”
Paying the penalty
The 49ers were penalized five times for 33 yards Sunday, certainly not excessive. But they hurt themselves badly at a couple of junctures in the game.
On the first play from scrimmage, Colin Kaepernick hit tight end Vernon Davis for a 20-yard gain, but it was called back because Davis was lined up in an illegal formation. The 49ers punted four plays later. San Francisco then had a chance to hold the Ravens to a field goal, but linebacker Ahmad Brooks was called for offside on a third-down incompletion. Flacco then hit Anquan Boldin for a 13-yard touchdown.
Late in the game, the 49ers had cut the score to 31-29 and badly needed a stop. But they twice prolonged a Baltimore drive with penalties — pass interference on Chris Culliver that negated another third-down incompletion, and offsides by Aldon Smith. The Ravens got a field goal from Justin Tucker that made it 34-29.
The 49ers, especially Jim Harbaugh, weren't thrilled with the officiating.
“We had some big ones,” center Jonathan Goodwin said. “It seems like some of them might have been questionable. If so, it'll make this one a little more painful.”
Flacco, the Super Bowl MVP, completed 22 of 33 passes for 287 yards and three touchdowns, with no interceptions. He was stellar all night.
But he had all-star company in Jacoby Jones, the speedy New Orleans native who helped turn this game with two huge plays.
With the Ravens up 14-3, Jones turned in a play destined to be a Super Bowl classic. On third-and-10 he raced past Culliver, then had to wait for Flacco's high throw. Jones caught it falling down, and, when he wasn't touched by Culliver, got up, eluded safety Dashon Goldson and beat two 49ers to the end zone for a 56-yard score.
Jones may have outdone himself when he returned the opening kickoff of the second half 108 yard for a touchdown. He said afterward that the Ravens have been returning kicks to the sidelines all year. This one was straight up the middle.
“All week in practice, we were working on that return,” he said. “That's my favorite return. I told Coach, 'I don't care where they kick it or how deep it is, I am taking that ball out on this return.'”
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