What started off as a lackluster Super Bowl XLVII suddenly turned interesting when most of the lights in the New Orleans Superdome went out a few plays into the third quarter. When they came back on 34 minutes later, the San Francisco 49ers, who had trailed the Baltimore Ravens 28-6, rallied to score 17 unanswered points and restore competitive energy to the game. But the 49ers’ second-half resurgence wasn’t enough to overcome their first-half mistakes. With Super Bowl MVP quarterback Joe Flacco at the helm and some well-executed defensive strategy in the game’s final minutes, the Ravens took control of the shootout to become champions for the second time in their 17-year history.
The game was one for the record books in terms of Super Bowl statistics, including the first ever attempt at a fake field goal, the longest postseason kick return (108 yards by Jacoby Jones), the longest rushing touchdown by a quarterback (15 yards by Colin Kaepernick) and the longest runtime at 4 hours and 14 minutes, thanks to the half-hour delay due to the stadium power outage.
San Francisco got off to a rocky start, racking up costly penalties and two turnovers in the first quarter. Vernon Davis’ 20-yard reception was called back by an illegal formation penalty in the first play of the game, and an off sides penalty on the next drive gave Baltimore a second chance on third down. That mistake allowed Flacco to hit Anquan Boldin in the end zone for a 13-yard touchdown.
The 49ers couldn’t make it into the end zone in the entire first half, and had to settle for two field goals. They turned the ball over on back-to-back possessions. The first, a fumble at the Baltimore 25-yard line, enabled a 10-play drive culminating with a 1-yard touchdown pass to tight end Dennis Pitta. Just nine seconds off the play clock later, Kaepernick threw an interception right into Ed Reed’s hands. The ensuing Baltimore drive brought the Ravens as close as 14 yards, but a risky fake field goal attempt on fourth down failed to add any more points to the board.
The Ravens would score on their next possession when Flacco aired a deep 56-yard pass to Jacoby Jones, who fell to the ground untouched by defenders. He scrambled to his feet to rush into the end zone for the touchdown, boosting their lead to 21-6 at the half.
The Ravens carried their momentum into the second half, with Jacoby Jones returning the kickoff 108 yards for a touchdown. It was after Kaepernick received his second sack of the night on the next drive that the 28-6 blowout became a blackout.
With the stadium power restored, 49ers’ found energy. Michael Crabtree and Frank Gore got into the end zone on back-to-back possessions. Tarell Brown forced Ray Rice to fumble on the next drive, which led to another San Francisco field goal late in the third quarter to cut their deficit to 28-23.
Baltimore was able to put in a field goal before the 49ers offense put together a five-play 76-yard drive that culminated with a 15-yard scramble by Kaepernick for a rushing touchdown. They attempted to tie the game with a two-point conversion, but were left trailing 31-29 with ten minutes left on the clock.
The shootout continued with another Baltimore field goal, and a 49ers drive to first and goal before the two-minute warning. With four chances to take the lead, Kaepernick threw three incomplete passes and gave up possession at the Baltimore 5 yard line with 1:46 left on the clock. The Ravens went three-and-out, but rather than punting, Sam Koch ran out of bounds for a safety to consume eight seconds off the clock and effectively end the game.
Flacco, who went 22/33 for 287 yards and three touchdowns, was awarded the Super Bowl MVP award.