The Baltimore Ravens won an absurdly close Super Bowl after a power outage sapped most of their momentum and almost helped the 49ers score a last-minute win.
But the real winner was CBS, which ended up with a close game after what looked -- before the outage -- like a blowout. A lopsided score is bad news for a network, because viewers tune out when a game's outcome looks certain.
Super Bowl XLVII turned out to be a nailbiter, at least partly thanks to the 34-minute delay caused by the outage. San Francisco took advantage of the break in Baltimore's rhythm to rally back from a 28-6 score in the third quarter to a final outcome of 34-31. With two minutes remaining, the game was completely up in the air.
"That power outage basically helped the 49ers, no question about it," said CBS's Boomer Esiason after the game, saying what everyone was thinking.
But at least the outage didn't cost the 49ers the game.
Baltimore almost getting screwed over in New Orleans would have been the stuff David Simon shows are made of. His "The Wire" portrayed Baltimore as the Charlie Brown of cities, always getting the football pulled away before a big kick. And his "Treme" portrays a New Orleans battling bad luck and bureacratic incompetence.
One or both were on display Sunday as the Superdome went partly dark during the most-watched event on American television. This was a moment for New Orleans to shine -- and only half of its stadium did.
CBS handled the interruption capably. Despite losing power to several cameras and audio sources, the network stayed on the air throughout the debacle.
Sideline reporter Steve Tasker first informed viewers of the outage after a commercial break around 8:40 ET, explaining that he was speaking, rather than announcer Jim Nantz, because "half the power in New Orleans' stadium, the Super Dome here, is out." That outage apparently struck the regular commentators.
Within moments, though, they were back on the air, trading jokes about whether the outage was caused by Beyonce's light-filled halftime show or a "power surge" by the Ravens' offense. As they vamped, viewers saw footage of Ravens and 49ers players stretching to stay warmed up for whenever the game resumed. It finally did after 34 minutes.
More to come...