Mon Dec 19 08:42pm EST
A blown transformer plunged Candlestick Park into darkness moments before the Pittsburgh Steelers and San Francisco 49ers were set to kickoff Week 15 of "Monday Night Football." The crucial interconference matchup was delayed for 20 minutes.
Later in the game, the lights at the stadium went off again, with the 49ers leading 6-0 early in the second quarter. Play was delayed 16 minutes before resuming.
Though immediate thoughts after the first outage turned to the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake that struck the San Francisco Bay Area before Game 3 of the World Series, this wasn't a similar event.
"We felt no shaking," ESPN play-by-play announcer Mike Tirico said on the air after the first outage.
Instead, it was a blown transformer that caused the lights to go out. ESPN's aerial cameras caught the video, which showed a nearby power station sparking.
The lights first went out at 5:19 p.m. local time and stayed off for nearly 20 minutes before coming back on, much to the delight of cheering fans who had already assembled in the stadium.
"The fans are still in their seats and everyone is relatively calm," Tirico said during the outage. "The officials are on the field. We've gone on and off with the auxiliary lighting that would kick in for security and safety [if there was an evacuation.]"
Players returned to the field shortly after the power returned. The game kicked off at exactly 6 p.m. local time.
The second outage started at 6:43 p.m. local time. Fans held up cell phones to provide light while officials tried to solve the problem. Referees met with both coaches and advised players to take their helmets off and wait out the delay.
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