League officials weren’t able to immediately explain the outage, but when play resumed, the 49ers were clearly energized.
That 22-point lead disappeared quickly. San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick threw a 31-touchdown pass to Michael Crabtree. Frank Gore scored from six yards out, and then Kaepernick ran in a touchdown as well. Before long, the Ravens led, 31-29.
“We don’t make anything easy,” Flacco said.
The 49ers were on the verge of history. Kaepernick moved the 49ers to the Baltimore 5-yard line. But a fourth down pass with 1 minute 50 seconds remaining in the game fell incomplete and the Ravens held on.
“It’s fitting that we won that way,” Flacco said. “We’re a tough blue-collar city. That’s the way our games come down.”
While the season concluded with Lewis, Flacco & Co. hoisting the Lombardi Trophy, the path here was hardly smooth. The Ravens closed the regular season losing four of their final five games and limped into the playoffs apparently destined for another long offseason.
Their playoff run was highlighted — some say overshadowed — by the travails of their star linebacker. Lewis had been the leader of the franchise almost since the day he was drafted in 1996. His life and 17-year career had as many highs as lows, and this season was no different. A torn triceps forced him to miss the final 10 games of the regular season.
As he prepared to return for the playoffs, he told his teammates, and then the media, that he would retire at the end of the postseason, providing plenty of January grist for those who both love and hate one of the game’s most polarizing players. For many teammates, though, it provided added motivation.
“This is the end of the Ray Lewis chapter,” said defensive tackle Arthur Jones, “and we wanted to end it right for him.”
In Lewis’s absence, Flacco — as inconspicuous as Lewis is flamboyant — began to show the ability to help the Ravens return to the Super Bowl. His performance Sunday underscored what everyone in Baltimore already knew: The team’s success will likely hinge on his right arm for years to come.
Flacco will need a new contract this offseason, but team owner Steve Bisciotti has made clear that he feels the quarterback’s long-term future in Baltimore is safe.
“Bottom line is we have our quarterback for the next 10 years and we’re going to ride Joe,” Bisciotti said in the days before the Super Bowl. “We said the last couple of years that we believed that he could get us to Super Bowls and win some.”
Staff Writer Peter Hermann contributed to this report from Baltimore