But nothing could darken this day for the Ravens. When it was all over and the mercurial team flickered back to life to win Super Bowl XLVII, Baltimore players embraced the gleaming Vince Lombardi Trophy. Their brilliant leader was able to go out on top, and their understated quarterback showed that the future looked bright, too.
A game marred by a power outage that stopped action for more than a half-hour, embarrassing the National Football League and forcing CBS broadcasters to scramble, ended with linebacker Ray Lewis in tears and his Ravens firmly on top, 34-31, victors over a San Francisco 49ers squad that fell just five yards shy of a historic comeback.
“It wasn’t perfect, it wasn’t pretty, but it was us,” said Ravens Coach John Harbaugh. “And that’s who we are.”
On the field, Harbaugh walked through the rain of purple and gold confetti to find 49ers Coach Jim Harbaugh, siblings experiencing the biggest game of their lives in starkly different ways. The Ravens coach drew his younger brother close and told him he loved him.
“It’s a lot tougher than I thought it was going to be,” the elder Harbaugh said of facing his brother.
With the end of the game, doors swung open in several Baltimore neighborhoods, including Federal Hill, as jubilant fans swarmed into the streets to join in a vast celebration.
Horns honked, fireworks popped and sparkled and here and there people stood on porches to watch and join in the general boisterousness. Others rolled by in a pickup truck, but for the most part, traffic came to a standstill as fans swarmed into the streets.
The win marked the Ravens’ second Super Bowl title and their first since 2001. It also drew together the organization’s past and its future. Lewis, the flashy and outspoken face of the franchise for so long, played his final game Sunday.
“BAL-TI-MORE!” he bellowed as he accepted the championship trophy before a partisan, purple-clad crowd, announced at 71,024 before the 49ers faithful retreated to the French Quarter to deal with the loss.
“This is the way you do it,” Lewis, 37, said later. “No other way to go out and end a career.”
On the other side of the ball, quarterback Joe Flacco etched his name in the team’s history books as he cemented his place in its future. This might have been Lewis’s team the past several years, but Flacco was named the Super Bowl MVP and he now carries Baltimore’s torch. Even a power outage couldn’t stop him.
Flacco sparkled in the first half Sunday, and diehard Ravens fans could already envision the victory parade back home moving past the Inner Harbor. And then it got better.
Jacoby Jones, the Ravens’ speedy offseason addition, opened the second half by fielding a 49ers kickoff and returning it 108 yards for a touchdown, giving Baltimore a 28-6 lead and the kind of momentum that should have made the remaining minutes of the game a formality. No team had ever blown such a big lead in the Super Bowl.