NEW ORLEANS – With more than 100 million people tuning in, the lights went out at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
At least half the lights did anyway.
At approximately 7:36 p.m. Central time, the lights went out in the Mercedez-Benz Superdome, and play was stopped. After about five minutes, the P.A. announcer came on to tell the crowd that "Obviously, we have suffered a partial interruption of our electrical service. Please remain in your seats."
The game resumed at about 8:10 p.m. Central time after a 34-minute delay.
One set of lights around the to ring of the Superdome came back on after a couple minutes, and some of the lights in the bank along the Baltimore Ravens' sideline came back on as well. Some, but not all, of the advertising signs came back on, and the scoreboard remained out, which the San Francisco 49ers are probably happy about. Players from both teams milled around their own sidelines, kept loose with basic stretches, and waited for the continuation of the game.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh, whose team had momentum when the power went out, was visibly upset on the sideline during the outage.
For the people watching at home, between plays early in the third quarter, suddenly the CBS announcers couldn't be heard anymore and it was apparent at least some of the lights went off. After going to a commercial break, sideline announcer Steve Tasker filled the fans in.
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Tasker explained that about half the stadium was without power, announcers Jim Nantz and Phil Simms were without power too, so he had to handle the duties of discussing what was going on.
The power went out with 13:22 left in the third quarter with the Ravens holding a 28-6 lead.
Encouragingly, there were no visible incidents from the crowd. There were several spurts of loud booing, some mildly effective versions of the Wave, and the same White Stripes song over and over again.
Play resumed with a pass from Colin Kaepernick to Delanie Walker. The 49ers then faced forth-and-6, which means that they waited around a half hour to punt.
With all the preparation that goes into a Super Bowl, the production usually comes off without a hitch. The power outage will go down as one of the most unusual moments in the history of the game.
Statement from Eric Eagan, Superdome spokesman: "Power has been restored. We sincerely apologize for the incident."
Statement from an NFL spokesman: Stadium authorities are investigating the cause of the power outage, We will have more information as it becomes available."
In related news, the Superdome's air conditioning went back on just after Frank Gore scored a six-yard rushing touchdown with 5:05 left in the third quarter. Gore may have been confused if he saw all the sportswriters cheering his score, when they were actually hailing the prevention of some rather gamey conditions in this beautiful but humid city.
-Frank Schwab contributed to this report
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