COMMENTARY

Wild and crazy Super Bowl had a little of everything

Updated: 2013-02-05T22:18:15Z

By SAM MELLINGER

The Kansas City Star

— The Super Bowl that is Joe Flacco’s lottery ticket and John Harbaugh’s permanent shotgun in the family sedan and Colin Kaepernick coming thisclose to one of the sport’s all-time moments should live on in NFL Films immortality but, c’mon, let’s be honest.

Once we get past the next week or so we will remember the Ravens’ 34-31 win over the 49ers as The Super Bowl Where The Lights Went Out.

“What a fitting way,” Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta says. “It didn’t make it easy, but it was fun.”

It wasn’t any less strange here in person, trust us. One second, the richest sports league in the richest country on the planet is holding its marquee event and then the next second, poof, it’s like your stoner college roommate forgot to pay the power bill.

A sporting event with enough cachet that corporations elbow each other for the right to pay $4 million for 30 seconds of your attention is apparently a hair dryer away from needing the breaker switches flipped back. You can’t get a ticket to the Super Bowl for less than a year’s worth of utility bills and, well, maybe the NFL needs to charge a little more if it means keeping the lights on.

“I think it was Beyonce, man,” Ravens cornerback Corey Graham says. “I heard she did so much out there at halftime she blew all the power out.”

As it stands, 34 minutes of standing around in nothing but the emergency lights — with fire alarms going off throughout much of the Superdome — is the continuation of a rough week for Roger Goodell and presumably all the excuse corporate America will need to keep this game away from America’s best party city for quite some time.

Once they plugged the Superdome back in, one of the wildest Super Bowls in a glorious recent string of them — Mike Jones’ tackle, Vinatieri’s kick, David Tyree’s helmet, Santonio Holmes in the corner, and Mario Manningham on the sideline — left Ray Lewis in tears. But, then, that’s about the only expected thing that happened all night.

Actually, that blackout is a pretty stark line of demarcation between what looked like a blowout and what turned out to be one of the more entertaining Super Bowls ever. When the lights went out, Baltimore led 28-6 in the third quarter and various advanced metrics gave the 49ers roughly a 2 percent chance of winning.

That’s less than your chance of picking the number on the next roulette spin.

The whole thing played out a bit like a night out on Bourbon Street. Everything was cool in the beginning, and then the craziness happened quick. Baltimore punted, 49ers receiver Michael Crabtree bounced off Bernard Pollard for a touchdown, Baltimore punted again, Frank Gore scored behind a devastating block from Central Missouri grad Delanie Walker, Baltimore fumbled, the 49ers got a field goal and all of a sudden it’s a five-point game.

The Ravens gave up every ounce of comfort you can find in a 22-point lead. This game took a million turns, a sort of Choose Your Own Adventure with the legacies and fortunes of a hundred lifelong football men hanging on every twist.

“It wasn’t pretty, and it wasn’t perfect,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh says. “But it was us.”

You’ve never heard a football story like the one that would’ve been written if Colin Kaepernick, who seven years ago needed to dominate a high school basketball game to get a single college scholarship, completed the biggest comeback in Super Bowl history with a last-minute touchdown. He was brilliant, again, passes placed perfectly over the linebacker and sprints away from the defensive linemen in the start of what sure looks like one of the NFL’s best careers of tomorrow.

As it happened, one of the wildest Super Bowls in history ended with the next star quarterback against the last star linebacker.

And somehow, the championship of a league now built heavily on offense went to the defense. The 49ers put their title hopes in Kaepernick’s decisions and arm on each of their last three plays, the last one an incomplete pass thrown into double coverage and rushed by a blitz that left their coach screaming for a penalty.

It was the first time since the blackout anybody felt like they had no chance.

A month ago, a lot of us were making Joe Flacco jokes. Now he’s the sport’s champion quarterback, with a playoff run better than anything done by Montana or Brady or Bradshaw or anyone else. Your punchline of last month might soon have a contract worth $100 million or so.

Ray Lewis’ career, whatever you think of the man, ended in about the coolest way possible: a goal-line stand to win the Super Bowl. After that, it was just the most awkward bro-hug in sports history and a party worthy of a grand old city that never stops.

“It’s probably one of the best Super Bowls that y’all have ever seen,” Ravens safety Ed Reed says. “I’m gonna enjoy this. No sleep, man. None.”

To reach Sam Mellinger, call 816-234-4365, send email to smellinger@kcstar.com or follow him at Twitter.com/mellinger. For previous columns, go to KansasCity.com.

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