Between the ads, the blackout and the Beyonce/Destiny's Child extravaganza Sunday night, there was a football game. A really good game, actually, with all sorts of records, near-records and last-minute nail-biting foolery.
If it weren't for an act of God (or some electrical problem), the game might have wrapped itself up early in the second half. The first half was absolutely dominated by the Ravens, who racked up 21 points to the 49ers' paltry 6. Not even one touchdown from 'Niners quarterback Colin Kaepernick and his boys. Not even one. All that would change, but not before Baltimore's Jacoby Jones returned the second half kickoff for a 108-yard touchdown. Ravens 28, 49ers 6.
The Ravens took significantly more time to power back up than the stadium did, and they wouldn't score one touchdown for the rest of the game. The 49ers, however, nabbed 17 points in the third quarter alone. Suddenly, all those jokes about how done the game was post-darkness came back to haunt Baltimore fans. Still, we had a game on our hands again, and TV people gotta get paid, so carry on.
The game was whittled down to a few errors and questionable calls. A potential holding call was overlooked on a 49ers fourth down attempt, causing 'Niners coach Jim Harbaugh to violently mimic stabbing himself in the gut over and over again. Most dramatic holding signal ever. A failed two-point conversion from Kaepernick put the game just out of reach for San Francisco, and a field goal for Baltimore all but sealed the deal.
Like so many great athletic contests, the last few minutes of the game were decided not by brute strength and agility, but by time management and bare strategy. In the last possession, the Ravens ate up time pushing through the downs, and instead of punting it away, punter Sam Koch sashayed to a safety that left only 4 seconds on the clock. Lots of drama. Some arcane rule that bought the 49ers hope. They didn't take it. Clock runs out. Boom. Confetti.
Sandy Hook Elementary: We wasted no time getting down to the emotion. Little ones from Sandy Hook Elementary sang "America the Beautiful" alongside Jennifer Hudson, and we all cried.
The sign language translator who looked like a game show host: His name is John Maucere, and his gleaming white grill and amazing pompadour took us higher.
The Ravens, first half: No contest. Joe Flacco spread the ball around to seven targets. He launched bombs that seemed to fall effortlessly into receiving hands. How does he do that? Magic? Prayer? Years of grueling practice and physical excellence in a national athletic league? It's like he gets paid to do this exact thing that still amazes us.
"It's a fake!": As far as fake field goals go, Justin Tucker came pretty close. The Ravens' attempt was the first field goal fake in Super Bowl history, and sure, there may have been a little too much hubris behind it (they really could have used those 3 points in the second half), but darn if it wasn't fun to watch.
The Beyonce Show featuring Destiny's Child: One of the best Super Bowl halftime shows to date.
Jacoby Jones: Jones had two breathtaking touchdowns: First, a 56-yard pass from Flacco that left him unsteady and scrambling, but untouched. He outmaneuvered a few San Fran defenders and edged it in. Just to prove that he is really, really good, he pulled that 108-yard return in the second half. The announcers spent a good deal of time debating the yardage (108? 109? Did he come from space?), but we're pretty sure they settled on 108. Either way, ridiculous. Flacco may have ended up as MVP, but Jones sure made a case for himself.
Oreo: Just a few minutes into the Great Super Bowl Blackout of 2013, the Oreo folks tossed out a fantastic ad that read, "You can still dunk in the dark." Apparently, they had their creative team up and running on a Sunday night? We're impressed. And a little concerned.
Jerome Boger: Whatever, you guys, Boger is the best. The veteran ref can pick apart a scrum, face down the wrath of Harbaugh and still be unflappable. When the lights finally came back on, Boger took the field to restart the game. "Let's Go," he said. Yayyyy!
Colin Kaepernick: We don't feel that sorry for Kaepernick. He's a great player, he's young and he'll probably find himself in this exact spot again before his career is over. That being said, he lit up the second half with smart plays, ran the ball to great effect, and even trotted one in the end zone himself. He seemed to unravel again when pressure was on late in the fourth quarter, but he gave the dominating Ravens a serious run for their money.
Confetti Angels: As purple and gold confetti rained down, some Baltimore players took the opportunity to flop down and make some confetti angels. This is a correct response to winning the Super Bowl.
Joe Flacco's uncensored summation of what it feels like to win the Super Bowl:"F-----g awesome!" This is also a correct response to winning the Super Bowl.
Darkness: Nothing turns the tide from "Woooo! Football!" to "OMG please let this be over" like 35 minutes of near darkness. Players stretched and jumped and looked sadly aimless. Commentators scrambled for more things to say. Painful. Sideline reporters found themselves charged with being the first line of communication between a power-deficient stadium and the waiting world populace. Oh, the humanity!
Nasty scrums: A few bad things here. Kaepernick was picked off in the second quarter, which led to an epic fight that must have pulled in at least 16 or so raging bodies. Jim Harbaugh, of all people, had to come calm his players down. Baltimore's Carey Williams shoved a ref and got away with it! At this point, with the Ravens so far ahead, it looked like this could have been the most exciting thing in the whole game. It wasn't, but it was close. And super ugly.
Holding? A crucial, late 4th-and-goal play that could have turned the tide decisively for the 49ers fell incomplete. No flags were on the field, but replays from several angles revealed a potential holding call against the Ravens' defense. Boger and his team didn't call it, much to the dismay of Jim Harbaugh and 49ers fans. It was a debatable non-call, one many people chalked up to temperament and destiny. Regrets? The 49ers have had a few.
The Ravens, second half: WHERE ARE YOU? WHY IS NOTHING HAPPENING ANYMORE?
Turnovers: Kaepernick's pre-fight interception was the first pick thrown by a San Francisco player in the Super Bowl EVER. Not exactly the sort of record he was hoping for. The teams traded another pair of turnovers that weren't quite as unfortunate.
Obligatory Jim Harbaugh temper tantrum: Yay! He did not disappoint. There was the Shakespearean-level holding pantomime, and then another one for some reason. There were a lot of opportunities for Harbaugh to be angry at his team last night, so it's hard to tell which was which.
The last few minutes: Rarely does a Super Bowl come down to the very last few minutes. After a long blackout, and some stressful plays, fans on both sides were equal parts exhausted and breathless on the edge of their seats. Watching the clock run out on their chances must have been hell for the 49ers. Heck, it was probably hell for Ravens fans, too. It ain't over till it's over. Give us confetti.
Overall 49ers sadness: This