RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
The Baltimore Ravens are Super Bowl Champions. The Ravens defeated the San Francisco 49ers 34 to 31 in a dramatic game that was nearly overshadowed by a partial power outage in the Superdome. San Francisco rallied from behind in the second half, but it was unable to grab the lead in the last moments of the game. NPR's Mike Pesca reports from New Orleans.
MIKE PESCA, BYLINE: Every team claims it has to overcome adversity, from no one believing in us to the entirely-opposite-yet-somehow-equally-daunting the expectations were so high. But these Baltimore Ravens really did have to overcome a lot. At different times, their best cornerback, best pass-rusher, and their unquestioned leader were all said to be out for the season.
Lardarius Webb was indeed lost, but Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs came back. So here, in New Orleans, even though the Ravens were confident they could rebound, they didn't want to be in a position to have to. Less than five minutes into the game, they struck first, added another TD in the second quarter, and with less than two minutes left in the half, scored their third touchdown.
Kevin Harlan with the call in Dial Global Radio.
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PESCA: All first half, Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco had avoided pass rushers, worming and bullying his way out of trouble, lofting ball after ball for Ravens receivers who beat their 49er counterparts. After the game, 9ers coach Jim Harbaugh complimented Flacco's elusiveness.
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PESCA: Those qualities are the quidness of Flacco, according to Ravens running back Ray Rice.
RAY RICE: Joe Flacco's the best quarterback in football right now.
PESCA: The game threatened to become a laugher when Ravens return man Jacoby Jones busted 108-yard touchdown to begin the second half. Ray Lewis actually mentioned that he laid hands on Jones before that return. Ever the religious man, Lewis surely knows that the book Matthew speaks of the outer darkness as that place where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, appropriate because not soon after Jones' return gave the Ravens a 22-point lead, the Superdome lost power.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Please remain in your seats. Service will be restored momentarily. Thank you.
PESCA: The cause of the over 30-minute blackout was said to be a tripped circuit breaker after a, quote, "abnormality" was sensed. In any case, when play resumed, the 9ers found a spark. Their second year quarterback Colin Kaepernick, began to create, with his arm and legs, eventually leading his team to the Ravens five-yard line, down five points with two minutes left.
Two incompletions later, it was fourth down. Would Kaepernick run it in himself? Would he hand off to Frank Gore? No, he would throw a spiral, lofted over the head of receiver Michael Crabtree who was clearly impeded by the Ravens defender - at least 9ers linebacker Ahmad Brooks thought so.
AHMAD BROOKS: It was a pass interference. I've got eyes. I've got two eyes, just like our referee got two eyes, and he was right there and he saw everything that happened, man. He should have called - they should have threw the play.
PESCA: But Crabtree himself wondered if the ball was so far out of reach that the referee had considered it uncatchable, thereby making the play not subject to an interference call. Either way, it spelled doom for the 9ers and celebration for the Ravens, like safety Ed Reed.
ED REED: It couldn't end in a better way, man. I mean, the game was a display of the whole year. It started good, got ugly, ended great.
PESCA: Ray Lewis will retire as a two-time champion. Joe Flacco's name will be etched on the MVP trophy, and the Ravens will know they fought through tough circumstance, never despaired and always found a way to light a candle rather than curse the darkness. Mike Pesca, NPR News, New Orleans. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.