They saw the Super Bowl was headed toward a boring blowout and they hit “reboot.” Lights out. Game on. The NFL wins again.
Seriously, who would have thought a 34-minute power outage would become any sort of positive, other than those who like Phil Simms being muted? Yet that break turned a Baltimore Ravens' runaway into an ever-so-slim 34-31 win over the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday night at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans.
It was a game that lived up to the hype of the brotherly battle of the minds between Ravens coach John Harbaugh and 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh. For the record, and strictly speaking as an amateur lip reader, John won the bad-words battle hands down, clinching it when a stadium official was explaining the power-outage delay plan.
John won the family's first Super Bowl coaching ring with a solid game plan and a nice final call to have the punter waste time and take a safety. I have a feeling Jim will get his ring, and soon. These guys know what they're doing.
It's time for a look at the Super Bowl winners and losers.
* Joe Flacco. The Ravens quarterback was in full control from the very start, hitting receivers with precision and showing – dare I say it? – the calm demeanor best displayed by Super Bowl greats like Joe Montana and Kurt Warner. His 11 touchdown passes this postseason tied Montana and Warner for the record.
Flacco was 22 of 33 for 287 yards and three touchdowns with no picks and a passer rating of 124.2. Those are Most Valuable Player numbers. And the sort of thing that gets you a crazy good raise.
* Ray Lewis. The Ravens linebacker got his wish. He retires as champion. He was able to bask in the glory of the moment. He has implied that he's a changed man over the course of his career, preaching his faith at every turn during this playoff run. I'll take him at his word. Enjoy retirement.
My only beef was Lewis quoting “If God is on our side, who can be against us?” I don't believe the Bible reference is meant for football games. If God picks the Super Bowl winners, wouldn't the “Saints” win every year? Think about it.
* Jacoby Jones, Ravens. A 56-yard touchdown reception and a 108-yard kickoff return touchdown. That's a good day in the prime-time office. In fact, Jones could have won the MVP.
* Jim Caldwell, Ravens offensive coordinator. He was aggressive when needed, putting the ball and game in Flacco's hands. He was fired as Indianapolis Colts coach after last year. Quick redemption for a good man.
* 49ers. If you don't like the 49ers, better enjoy this loss. They have the makings of a budding dynasty again. Jim Harbaugh took them to the NFC title game last season, the Super Bowl this season. The next step is winning it. With quarterback Colin Kaepernick staging a comeback from 22 points down, he showed why he's so dynamic and why the 49ers should only get better. Kaepernick's second half was superb, and he set a record for longest Super Bowl TD run by a quarterback (15 yards).
* The NFL. Even a monotonous, 34-minute delay couldn't unseat the Super Bowl as the country's best sports event. The game has come under fire for its health issues and its changes in officiating, etc.
In the end, the product delivered. You can't escape the pull of the game.
* Superdome. No, the power outage didn't take away from the ultimate enjoyment of the game. But that sort of thing simply cannot happen at the game's biggest event. New Orleans has been one of the regulars in the Super Bowl rotation. I'm pretty sure Lucas Oil Stadium kept the lights on.
* Halftime show with Beyonce, a bunch of other singers/dancers who look like Beyonce and the two other members of Destiny's Child. It was a good show if your idea of entertainment is booty shaking. Apparently, that is indeed many people's idea of entertainment. But the pure musical moment of the night goes to Alicia Keys' national anthem, following Jennifer Hudson and the Sandy Hook Elementary School choir.
* Commercials. The best one was the “Joe Montana Miracle Stain” from Tide. I also enjoyed the Skechers guy catching the cheetah. GoDaddy needs to become GoAwayDaddy with the uncomfortable kissing commercial.
* Officials. They called all sorts of pass interference all season long and swallowed their whistle on the 49ers' failed last offensive play. It sure looked like 49ers receiver Michael Crabtree was held. They let it go. Jim Harbaugh went berserk. The more I watch the replay, the more it seems an obvious missed penalty. The reason Crabtree pushes is because he's pushing back.
For those who say officials should let the players decide it? They did. But a player decided it by committing an uncalled penalty. Is that what we want? Maybe it is. The Ravens came up strong with that final goal-line stand on three other plays.
* Monday. The season's over. Now what do we do? Oh, yeah, let's talk NFL Draft.