Super Bowl 2013 blackout: Blame it on Beyonce?

February 4, 2013

Lights out, y’all. (Dave Martin / AP)

The day after the great blackout of Super Bowl XLVII, the search for the cause, or the beginning of the blame game, begins.

Was it Beyonce’s fault for her halftime extravaganza? Was it some sort of New Orleans voodoo? The blackout, which came 90 seconds into the second half and lasted nearly 34 minutes, was caused by power coming into the Superdome and no other areas were affected, authorities said. Coming in the year’s most-watched TV and sporting event, it was a gaffe beyond embarrassing.

“Shortly after the beginning of the second half of the Super Bowl in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, a piece of equipment that is designed to monitor electrical load sensed an abnormality in the system,” Entergy and SMG, the Superdome management company, said in a statement (via Nola.com). “Once the issue was detected, the sensing equipment operated as designed and opened a breaker, causing power to be partially cut to the Superdome in order to isolate the issue.

“Backup generators kicked in immediately as designed. Entergy and SMG subsequently coordinated start up procedures, ensuring that full power was safely restored to the Superdome. The fault-sensing equipment activated where the Superdome equipment intersects with Entergy’s feed into the facility. There were no additional issues detected.

“Entergy and SMG will continue to investigate the root cause of the abnormality.”

Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith had a different theory. “Beyonce must have had a hell of a show,” he joked.

Although CBS cameras caught Ravens Coach John Harbaugh expressing his frustration during the outage to men in business suits, quarterback Joe Flacco said the 73,000-seat arena wasn’t that dark. “The funny thing is the light was actually good when the lights went out,” he said. “I don’t know what it looked like on TV, but I think the receivers would have still been able to see the ball in all that.

“The biggest issue was with the headsets. I think our headsets were working; I think theirs weren’t.”

It had been a glitch-free week for New Orleans, which was putting on its first Super Bowl in 11 years in the building so heavily damaged by Hurricane Katrina.  The city would, of course, like to host another and Mayor Mitch Landrieu promised a full investigation. Nola.com reported that the electrical system was being upgraded late last fall. “In the coming days, I expect a full after action report from all parties involved,” he said in a statement. For us, the Super Bowl isn’t over until the last visitor leaves town, so we’re focused on continuing to show our visitors a good time.”

The blackout may well have saved the game. The Ravens were dominating in the first half, but had to sit for a lengthy halftime and again for the lengthy outage. After power was restored, the 49ers (who had a blackout at Candlestick in 2011) were plugged in and made a classic game out of a rout.

“I just started catching passes,” Ray Lewis said, “just to keep my mind off the lights and whatever. I think that’s probably the first time that’s happened in a Super Bowl and for something that strange to happen, you just have to keep your focus. We was on a roll just then and to stop that momentum the way it did, you know — you saw the way things started to shift.”

The unofficial winner of the blackout? Oreo, with this tweet mid-darkness:

Follow @CindyBoren on Twitter and on Facebook.

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After spending most of her career in traditional print sports journalism, Cindy began blogging and tweeting, first as NFL/Redskins editor, and, since August 2010, at The Early Lead. She also is the social media editor for Sports.
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Cindy Boren · February 4, 2013