Inside the Ravens-49ers 2013 New Orleans Super Bowl blackout

NEW ORLEANS — There was concern a few terrorist assault, an anxious dash down 280 ft of stairs and uncertainty a few mysterious man in a darkish uniform who questioned referees on the sector about what is going on to occur subsequent.

Super Bowl XLVII was presupposed to be remembered for being the primary NFL championship sport that includes brothers as opposing head coaches — the Baltimore Ravens’ John Harbaugh vs. the San Francisco 49ers’ Jim — or for being the ultimate sport of Ray Lewis’ Corridor of Fame profession, however that narrative modified about halfway by way of in a most surprising method.

“It was the Super Bowl where the lights went off,” John Harbaugh stated just lately. “The night that the lights went out in New Orleans will be remembered forever.”

The Superdome misplaced half of its lights for 34 minutes, though it appeared like an eternity for many who had been there. As soon as energy was restored, the 49ers narrowed a 22-point result in two when Colin Kaepernick scored on a 15-yard run with 9:57 left within the fourth quarter. However the Ravens had been in a position to dangle on for a 34-31 victory.

On Monday evening, the Ravens return to the Superdome, the place they face the New Orleans Saints (8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN2), almost 10 years after the league’s most notorious energy failure.

“We’ve never learned, we’ve never gotten back to why this happened,” former Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs stated throughout a latest crew reunion. “But it don’t matter, because we got the ring.”

This was a Super Bowl not like another, that includes an impromptu sport of freeze tag, a motivational speech impressed by a Marvin Gaye track and conspiracy theories.

“I had a lot of questions then. I have a lot of questions now,” Lewis stated Wednesday. “Every time I turn on my lights at night, I think about that. How did the lights go out in the Super Bowl?”

Right here is the story of the evening of Feb. 3, 2013, as informed by the individuals who skilled it:

‘This cannot be taking place’

The Ravens took a commanding 28-6 lead after Jacoby Jones’ record-tying 108-yard kickoff return for a landing to open the second half. Three performs later, Baltimore defensive deal with Arthur Jones sacked Kaepernick to arrange a third-and-long earlier than the facility outage occurred at 7:38 p.m. CT.

Lewis: This isn’t a film. This isn’t Hollywood. That is actual time. And I am saying we get off the sector proper right here, it is a wrap. They’re executed. And it is like cling-cling [the lights go out]. I stated, “What?”

Suggs: It was a type of issues, like, “All right, just turn the switch back on. Somebody hit the switch, accidentally hit the light switch off.” However once they did not come again on within the first 10 or quarter-hour, we had been like, “All right. What, we’re gonna delay the Super Bowl for a day or two?” I did not know what [NFL commissioner] Roger [Goodell] was as much as.

Jacoby Jones: You knew they had been about to punt the ball to me, proper? I simply ran it again [108 yards for a touchdown]. Then, any individual was at Buffalo Wild Wings and hit the button.

Solomon Wilcots, CBS sideline reporter: I used to be pondering terrorist assault or potential public mass [incident]. In our nation, that stuff’s even to today, it is etched on our thoughts. I began to stroll for the tunnel. I’ve a spouse and youngsters. I need to get again to my household.

Lewis: Guys are in huddles they usually’re like, Man, suppose it is a terrorist assault. And now the sport is irrelevant. So now it’s a must to put the sport down and say, I am executed with the sport as a result of who is aware of what the freak is about to occur. And why will not they inform us one thing? No one gave us a solution.

Joe Flacco, former Ravens QB: I used to be pondering, all proper, we’re within the Super Bowl, it is only a stadium [thing], the lights went out. They’ve to have the ability to get them again on. You realize, it is the Super Bowl. This cannot be taking place. So I simply had belief or religion in the truth that we had been within the greatest sport on the earth, and it was simply going to proceed to go.

Jim Harbaugh, former 49ers coach: First response was “OK, well, we know what to do. We’ve already had two of these.” The generator blew. That is what occurred at Candlestick [Park]. Had [that] occur to us in a preseason sport, after which both a Sunday evening sport or Monday evening sport in opposition to the Steelers. So we knew we would be going again into the locker room, it might be not less than half-hour or extra. So we had been fairly skilled.

34 minutes at the hours of darkness

Over 71,000 followers waited contained in the Superdome, the place the escalators had stopped working, credit-card machines shut down and the concourses had been illuminated solely by a small financial institution of emergency lighting. And for the reason that 49ers’ locker room was on the west aspect of the stadium, which was the aspect affected by the blackout, they needed to keep on the sector, and that meant the Ravens had been required to remain on the sector, too.

Suggs: It was Ray Lewis’ final sport, and he was over there on the bike. He is nonetheless being Ray Lewis, attempting to go over defenses. We had been like, “Ray, the lights are out, man. We can’t play football right now, you know what I’m saying?” However Ray wasn’t going to lose his final sport, and we weren’t going to lose it for him, both.

John Harbaugh: I used to be attempting to determine what the heck we had been doing when it comes to protecting our guys warmed up. We rested for some time, and we began performing some stretching stuff.

Jacoby Jones: Me and Torrey [Smith, Ravens wide receiver] had been enjoying freeze tag. We had been simply working round on the sector. That is the way you stayed free. They had been saying, “Let’s stretch.” Stretch? I ain’t by no means stretched in my life.

Wilcots: I start to speak with the [TV] truck and canopy the story. I might wish to say that we had splendidly educated, calm individuals who had been vulnerable to management in crises. Nevertheless it was the other. It was screaming and chaos with 5 folks in my ear attempting to say, “Hey, what do we do?”

Joe Larrew, aspect decide: [Head referee] Jerome Boger and I are on the sector. Some man in a black uniform, he appeared like army, regulation enforcement, black ops, he stated, “I need to report back on your plan. What are you going to do?” Jerome and I take a look at one another. I stated, “Well, when they tell us to start the game, we’re going to start the game.” And he seems at us, and I believed perhaps he would get the sense that I used to be attempting to be humorous, however he seems at me and says, “Roger that.” After which he turns round and walks away.

I turned to Jerome and stated, “Do you remember the movie ‘Die Hard’? Remember the FBI guys that came into the scene and took charge?” … I stated, “That’s Agent Johnson from ‘Die Hard’!” I do not know if the phrase is worried, however that will be extremely uncommon for us to be coping with any individual in a so-called uniform.

John Harbaugh: We needed to observe over on the Saints [practice facility] on [Thursday] evening as a result of the [Tulane baseball] subject was too arduous. So on the finish of observe it was getting darkish, and actually it was too darkish to observe. And we had two extra performs and the track got here on, certainly one of my favourite songs, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell. [Near the end of the delay], I informed the fellows: “I’ll remind you of that Motown song. There ain’t no mountain high enough, and there ain’t no valley low enough, and there’s nothing that’s going to keep us from winning this championship. Not this, and not nothing. We’re going to win this game, no matter how long it takes.”

Jim Harbaugh: I dealt with it the way in which we had dealt with it the 2 earlier occasions [the 49ers experienced delays], and that was one thing that had labored. It is often 10 minutes of loosening up after which we’ll play once more, similar to we have executed the final two occasions that this occurred to us. Simply save your vitality. There isn’t any sense in having any nervous vitality.

Flacco: We most likely ought to have executed much more [during the delay]. We hadn’t been on the market as an offense for the reason that second-to-last drive of the primary half. We got here out of a extremely, actually lengthy halftime, too, and we ran the opening kickoff again they usually received the ball. We most likely did not have the ball for an hour. We got here again flat.

Conspiracy theories abound

Through the years, Lewis, Suggs and Jones have stated they do not consider the blackout was an accident. Lewis even introduced it up throughout his Corridor of Fame speech. Suggs has recommended Goodell needed to cease Baltimore’s momentum. Jones provided one other principle based mostly on an underdog Ravens crew that was about to run away with the victory.

Jacoby Jones: That [power failure] was Vegas. I am born and raised from New Orleans. The lights ain’t exit within the Superdome throughout [Hurricane] Katrina. Nevertheless it does within the Super Bowl?

Suggs: After I was youthful, I used to be sort of a insurgent. We’ll by no means know what occurred. However yeah, I used to at all times stir the pot and was like, “We’re messing up the point spread, so they hit the lights on us.”

John Harbaugh: I do suppose there was a second shooter for [President John F.] Kennedy, however I do not essentially purchase into this explicit [conspiracy theory].

Lewis: What made these lights exit at the moment? At the moment. Why not exit within the second quarter? Why not exit within the first quarter, when the sport was shut? When our run was able to occur, the lights exit. How at this good time did that occur?

John Harbaugh: Ray won’t ever be satisfied. He’ll at all times consider there was a conspiracy. However what’s his principle?

Lewis: Simply think about in a film, any individual’s hand on that change, they usually say, “It’s about to get out of hand. Hit the switch.” I do not know if that is the way in which it performed out, however I’ll inform you, I simply need to know. I actually do. I need to understand how did that occur in a sport with a lot on the road and a lot occurring and one of many best historic locations ever to play a sport of soccer, interval. And that occurs.

Flacco: Pay attention, I can go down the conspiracy principle rabbit gap with one of the best of ’em. However on this case, it simply sort of struck me as one thing occurred. I chalk it as much as one thing malfunctioning. Perhaps Beyonce’s [halftime] present went a little bit bit too loopy and the lights went out.

Lewis: Beyonce carried out and the lights had been working, blinking on and off. After which we get on the market and we won’t get them on. Timing is all the pieces. I simply do not know. Any individual is aware of one thing. That is what I am asking. I need to know that one that is aware of one thing, and that is the particular person I have been searching for the final 10 years. I ain’t discovered him but.

Praying for a fast second half

The facility firm, Entergy, changed cables and the change gear to the Superdome six months earlier than the Super Bowl. However within the week main as much as the sport, CBS skilled irregularities within the electrical present throughout pregame rehearsals. The lights within the higher bowl additionally went out for no obvious purpose throughout Beyonce’s rehearsal, which led to her present being placed on a separate generator. Nonetheless, it did not stop the blackout.

Frank Supovitz, former NFL senior vp for occasions: When the lights went out on the west aspect [of the Superdome], I had this sinking feeling, I will not inform you I did not. There was this launch of adrenaline rapidly, and we stated, “Holy smoke, we’ve got a problem, Houston, and we’ve got to set about fixing it.”

Doug Thornton, services supervisor for the Superdome: Once you’re within the management heart like that and one thing occurs, you begin getting all these calls. The elevators and concessions are down. The 49ers’ locker room is darkish as a result of it is within the west aspect. Then we get a name coming in, each groups need to go away the sector, however they cannot. The 49ers cannot go away, so we won’t let the Ravens go away. And I actually suppose to today, that is one of many causes folks within the stadium remained so calm, is as a result of each groups stayed on the sector.

Supovitz: There was simply this unbelievable second of uncertainty. We did not know what had occurred. We did not know why it occurred. However the very first thing that we requested ourselves was, “What do we tell people?”

Thornton: We needed to get a message all the way down to the PA announcer. What was attention-grabbing is as a result of we weren’t working on generated energy in that NFL management sales space, we actually needed to tear the sheet of paper out of the guide and run it all the way down to the PA announcer within the sales space.

Supovitz: The heroes of the day actually had been the stadium operations crew, as a result of they knew when one thing like this was taking place, they needed to shut off all of the unessential energy within the constructing. It was a superb factor they did, as a result of had they not, the opposite aspect of the constructing would’ve gone darkish. That was one thing we’d by no means have recovered from.

Thornton: So in changing the change gear, it is essential the gear be calibrated in order that it does not falsely sense an overload. However the electrical gear was by no means correctly calibrated, both by the producer of the gear or the facility firm. This was decided after a weeks-long investigation. After all, everyone thought the facility went out within the Superdome, when in truth the facility went out 1 / 4 mile away from the Superdome outdoors the constructing. So despite the fact that it wasn’t our fault, it grew to become our downside.

Supovitz: After the facility was restored, one of many first questions I requested the stadium director was, “Can you tell me this isn’t going to happen again?” As a result of we did not truly know what had occurred, aside from for some purpose this energy cable, this feeder cable had failed. So is it going to occur once more? And his response to me was actually chilling. He stated, “I don’t know. I can’t tell you that. It could.”

Thornton: We ran down from the very high of the constructing. It was 280 ft from the highest all the way down to the underside of the stadium. We took the steps down. We did not need to take the elevator or the escalator. We simply ran down the steps as quick as we may to get to the engineering room. There have been most likely 20 folks standing across the two change gears and observing them. We stated, “Don’t touch anything. Leave it the way it is.” We had been all nervous, hanging on by way of the third and fourth quarter.

Supovitz: That was the longest half of soccer I’ve ever labored. I prayed that they had been going to maintain the ball on the bottom and weren’t going to do a variety of passing. I needed the clock to maintain transferring and that we may get the sport completed earlier than the rest occurred within the constructing.

Thornton: The Super Bowl was flawless as much as that time. And to have one thing occur that is past your management and that is out actually outdoors the constructing 1 / 4 mile away that you simply had no information about, it simply made me sick to my abdomen. I used to be so offended for weeks. I went right into a depressed state, simply pondering what may we now have executed.

‘Nonetheless get a little bit nervous’

After Kaepernick’s landing run — the longest for a QB in Super Bowl historical past — narrowed the deficit to 31-29, the 49ers missed the 2-point conversion. Baltimore’s Justin Tucker added a subject objective, and the Ravens gave up a security with 4 seconds remaining, organising one final play. Baltimore wanted special-teamer Josh Bynes to deal with 49ers returner Ted Ginn at midfield as time expired to seal the franchise’s second Super Bowl title. Earlier than the Ravens kicked to Ginn, Flacco was overheard joking with teammates that they need to run from the sideline to deal with Ginn to maintain him from scoring the profitable landing.

Flacco: I clearly wasn’t severe. It was only a humorous solution to get some nervous vitality out. It was a type of hypothetical questions that we may discuss on the dinner desk. Like, “Man, I wonder if we did that, what would happen? Would they give the guy a touchdown?”

Suggs: If the lights had by no means went out, we most likely may have put up 56 factors on them. However we’ll by no means know.

Flacco: And fortunately I do not care, as a result of we received the sport. Nevertheless it’s a type of loopy issues. After I watch that sport with my youngsters, and particularly the top of the sport, I do know we received, however you continue to get a little bit nervous due to how shut it ended up being.

Larrew: Anytime any individual sees my ring or they discover out that I labored the Super Bowl, I am going to say, “Yes, I worked Super Bowl XLVII.” The very first thing they create up is, that is the one with the blackout. It isn’t about Baltimore beating San Francisco or what occurred on the sector. It was about the truth that we had the blackout. It is a 100% chance that I am going to hear about that earlier than the rest.

John Harbaugh: You dream as a coach to win the Super Bowl, and also you see all of the totally different — Jimmy Johnson, Invoice Parcells — and all of the totally different celebrations. The blokes get carried off, the Gatorade showers and stuff. I go searching, it is like there’s no one close to me. It is like, the place’d everyone go? They’re working round celebrating.

I notice it is like they most likely sort of knew, “Oh he’s got to go talk to Jim.” It isn’t like a traditional coach. You are not going to go over [and] shake a coach’s hand, “good game.” I actually truly felt for him and what he was going by way of, as a result of we’re brothers and we shared a room collectively for 17 years. We speak on a regular basis. And so I needed to sort of get my braveness as much as go over and say hello, and it was good, however he was upset.

Lewis: The best way it occurred, it means I reside the remainder of my life as champion. So I do not know if I would like the lights to exit once more, if I needed to replay it. However them going out, it labored in our favor on the finish of the day as a result of we received.

Suggs: Once you get that confetti to fall down, and it is in your [team] colours, you have reached the top. You have reached the mountaintop along with your brothers. It is the best feeling on the earth. I’ve at all times stated, “I’m not going to say it’s better than watching your child being born, but it’s close. It’s close.” So, had we fallen quick and did not win it, I most likely would’ve been like, “Yo, it was the lights’ fault.”

Contributing: ESPN Vikings reporter Kevin Seifert and faculty soccer reporter Adam Rittenberg