NEW ORLEANS — When the Superdome blew a fuse Sunday and Super Bowl XLVII flipped on a switch, conspiracy humorists were loaded with material.
Super Bowl host and Saints owner Tom Benson pulled the plug to get back at NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. Ha!
No truth to the rumor that a petulant Jim Harbaugh, trailing by more than three touchdowns to his big brother John Harbaugh, kicked the power cord in a fit of rage. Har! Har!
And don't even start with this city's culture of voodoo curses.
When the Baltimore Ravens prevailed 34-31 in Super Bowl XVLII by holding off a furious rally from the San Francisco 49ers that seemed to be ignited by a significant power-outage delay, all was forgiven.
"The final series of Ray Lewis' career was a goal-line stand to win the Super Bowl," said Ravens coach John Harbaugh.
It allowed John Harbaugh to win one for older brothers everywhere by outsmarting his younger brother, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh.
"I'm proud," said Jack Harbaugh, the father of John and Jim. "It was such a hard-fought, well-played game. Strategy was fantastic. I give credit to the 49ers for being that far back (28-6) and battling back."
And it allowed Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco to finish off a remarkable postseason run that is about to make him a very rich quarterback.
Flacco received the award after he threw three more touchdown passes, all in the first half, with no interceptions.
Chris Harris couldn't have known it at the time, but the Denver cornerback created a Super Bowl-winning quarterback monster. Harris, an undrafted, second-year pro, stepped in front of a Flacco pass near the Broncos' goal line late in the first half of a Dec. 16 regular-season game in Baltimore. Harris returned the interception 98 yards for a touchdown. It would be the last interception Flacco threw this season.
Six weeks after the humiliating moment, his beaten face planted and photographed on the Baltimore turf, Flacco was a Super Bowl champion thanks to a run in which he had 15 touchdown passes against zero interceptions.
"Sometimes it happens like that," Flacco said. "I don't think I'm the kind who throws a lot of picks in general. It just happened that way. The team came together and got healthy."
Flacco's sensational run was partially overshadowed by darkness Sunday. The power went off soon after the Ravens' Jacoby Jones returned the second-half kickoff 108 yards for a TD, putting San
Late in the fourth quarter, the 49ers had rallied to within 31-29. It was 34-29 at the two-minute warning and the 49ers had second-and-goal at the Ravens' 5-yard line. Three Colin Kaepernick incompletions later, the Ravens had their second Super Bowl title — the first since the 2000 season, when Lewis was the MVP of that game.
After Sunday's thriller, most of the Ravens didn't blame delay of game for the change of momentum. "I don't think so," Flacco said. "They've been coming back like that all year."
Ravens defensive back Jimmy Smith, who played at the University of Colorado and was the main defender on the game's final incompletion, disagreed.
"It was like having two halftimes. They put on a surge after that. And it slowed us down," Smith said.
Isn't it possible that for all of the wisecracking, the explanation for all of this is, first, the Superdome is absurdly outdated for the Super Bowl? Couldn't an explanation for the San Francisco comeback be that the 49ers were a young, uptight team as they stepped nervously on the league's biggest stage and were simply themselves once their jitters settled?
The problem for the 49ers, though, is their comeback was too late to overcome Flacco. He threw his first touchdown pass across the middle to Ravens wide receiver Anquan Boldin after he got a redo on third down thanks to an offside penalty against 49ers linebacker Ahmad Brooks.
His second TD pass was
Flacco's third TD pass must have looked depressingly familiar to Broncos fans. It was a long throw right to Jacoby Jones.
In the Super Bowl, Flacco looked like a quarterback who has been starting for five seasons and is just coming into his own. Oh, and a quarterback who is about to get paid $16 million to $20 million per year thanks to the leverage of his well-timed free agency. His counterpart, the 49ers' Colin Kaepernick, looked like a raw talent who appeared woefully ill-prepared for the big stage — at least in the first half.
Funny how football works. That Harris pick-six on Dec. 16 changed what looked to be a 10-7 game at halftime into a 17-0 lead for the Broncos. Afte that awful throw, Flacco turned into the elite QB he said he was during a radio interview earlier this season.
His run started in the fourth quarter against the Broncos, when, trailing 31-3, he threw two seemingly meaningless touchdown passes to Pitta.
Those were TDs one and two in the run. The next week, against the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants, Flacco threw two more scoring passes. TDs three and four.
That win put the Ravens in the playoffs, even though they had lost four of their five games in December. So much for the importance of playing your best football in the final month of the regular season. The Broncos went 5-0 in December and it didn't mean diddly in the playoffs. After Flacco threw two more touchdowns in a first-round AFC playoff win against Indianapolis — No. 5 and No. 6 in his run — he added three touchdown bombs against the Broncos in the divisional round.
Those three touchdowns went for 59 (No. 7), 32 (No. 8) and 70 (No. 9) yards. The 32-yarder to Torrey Smith came with 36 seconds remaining in the first half and beat the Broncos' star cornerback, Champ Bailey. The 70-yarder has been replayed by Bronco fans ever since. It came with 31 seconds remaining in a game the Broncos were leading 35-28 until Flacco's heave sailed past stumbling safety Rahim Moore and into Jones' arms for the stunning, game-tying touchdown. The Ravens won 38-35 in double overtime.
Flacco threw three more TD passes — Nos. 10, 11 and 12 — in outdueling Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in the AFC championship game.
And then he threw three more in the first half Sunday against the 49ers. Any thought they could come through with one of their patented postseason rallies lasted the 11 seconds it took Jones to bolt 108 yards on his kickoff return.