Super Bowl XLVII is going to be known for all time as the Super Bowl where the lights went out — as well as, we’d suspect, the last Super Bowl held in New Orleans for a long, long time — and that’s unquestionably a good thing, considering how long it looked like this going to be the Super Bowl that was known for nothing. Before half of the Superdome was plunged into darkness, this was looking like a laugher of a Super Bowl, the first full-on blowout since the Buccaneers destroyed the Raiders in 2003. But then, after 34 minutes of utter insanity, the game, in a turn almost as unlikely as the lights going out at the Super Bowl, turned into one of the great games in Super Bowl history. But not the greatest, because San Francisco’s post-blackout comeback came up just short in the final seconds, giving the Ravens a 34-31 victory to win their second-ever Super Bowl. Older brother beat younger brother, but nobody cares about that anymore. One of the nice things about a great Super Bowl is that it makes all the dumb storylines all fade away once the game gets going like it did tonight. Oh, and yes: Those lights.
The 49ers’ wild run, which wasn’t connected to the blackout but will always be assumed to be associated with it anyway, came down to a 1st-and-goal in the final two minutes … a series in which the 49ers completely imploded. They wasted a timeout avoiding a delay of game, their play-calling clammed up and they suddenly didn’t trust their star player, Colin Kaepernick, to do what he’d been doing all game. Next thing you knew, a game the 49ers were going to etch in the books as the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history (by a lot), was ending on a punter desperately trying to run out of the back of the endzone. In the brother battle, Jim clammed up in the final seconds, and John won his Super Bowl.
In the interests of justice, the worst player on the field for both teams might have been 49ers cornerback Chris Culliver, who kept being burnt by the Ravens all night, helping wide receiver Jacoby Jones win the MVP Trophy, if the voters would have picked the right guy. (Joe Flacco ended up winning the award.) You will of course remember Culliver as the scholar who made homophobic comments on Media Day, the one day out of the year in which no one ever says anything, let alone something offensive and moronic. The “Well, he just doesn’t want to lay a hand on a guy” jokes were coming in droves, and you can’t say he hadn’t earned them. The other, non-brother storyline of the Super Bowl was Ray Lewis playing his final game, but he was so invisible during the game that it felt like, when the cameras followed him at the end of the game, they were simply pointing out the mascot.
But the real story, of course, was the blackout of half the stadium, an incident so strange that CBS’s announcing crew — the ones whose mics still worked anyway — apparently started speaking some strange language perhaps only understood by dolphins, or humans who have just fallen from a substantial height. The NFL still hadn’t said by game’s end what caused the incident — there were rumblings, as yet unconfirmed, that Beyonce’s light-show-heavy halftime show contributed to the overload — but it was a disaster for pretty much everyone involved, 34 minutes of blank air time on the biggest television day of the year. Fortunately for CBS and the NFL and the city of New Orleans — which had just been praised by the Department of Energy yesterday — the 49ers made such a great game of it that, as the Ravens received their trophy and commissioner Roger Goodell addressed the crowd, no one even mentioned it. (For the first fifteen minutes anyway: Once Jim Nantz started interviewing Ray Lewis, we had to leave the room, lest we burst into flames.) The 49ers saved the Super Bowl from humiliation and gave fans once of the most lunatic football games in decades. It just wasn’t quite enough. This is one no one is going to forget; it was confounding and bewildering and awesome. It’s gonna take everybody a while to figure it all out. Whatever it was, it was pure entertainment. Power outages, wild comebacks, Paul Harvey, running-back penis and Beyoncé, Beyoncé, Beyoncé. That’s the Super Bowl, and that’s America.