NEW ORLEANS — The Super Bowl was halted for 34 minutes because of a power outage Sunday night, plunging parts of the Superdome into darkness and briefly leaving TV viewers of the biggest game of the year with no football and no explanation why.
The Baltimore Ravens were leading the San Francisco 49ers 28-6 when most of the lights in the 73,000-seat building went out with 13:22 left in the third quarter.
Auxiliary power kept the playing field from going totally dark, but escalators stopped working and the concourses were only illuminated by small banks of lights tied in to emergency service.
Philip Allison, a spokesman for Entergy New Orleans, which provides power to the stadium, said power had been flowing into the stadium before the lights failed.
“All of our distribution and transmission feeds going into the Superdome were operating as expected,” Allison said.
He said the outage appeared to originate in a failure of equipment maintained by stadium staff. It occurred shortly after Beyonce put on a 12-minute halftime show that featured extravagant lighting and video effects.
On the CBS broadcast, play-by-play announcers Jim Nantz and Phil Simms went silent.
CBS sideline reporter Steve Tasker announced the problem of a “click of the lights” to viewers. Later, the halftime crew anchored by host James Brown returned to fill the time with football analysis. Brown said a power surge caused the outage.
“We lost all power up here at the press box level,” Nantz said after power was restored. He and Simms were off the air for most of the 34-minute outage.
The failure occurred shortly after Jacoby Jones returned the opening kickoff of the second half for a 108-yard touchdown, the longest play in Super Bowl history and pushing the Ravens to a commanding lead. But when play resumed, the momentum totally changed.
The Niners scored two straight touchdowns and nearly pulled off a game-winning drive in the closing minutes. They had first down inside the Ravens 10, but Baltimore kept them out of the end zone to preserve a wild 34-31 victory.
The blackout, it turned out, became more of a footnote than a spark to the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history.
Still, it was a moment like no other in the title game.
The public address announcer said the Superdome was experiencing an interruption of electrical service and encouraged fans to stay in their seats. Some fans did the wave to pass the time. Players milled around on the sidelines, some took a seat on the bench, other on the field. A few of the Ravens threw footballs around.