Super Bowl 2013 live blog: Baltimore Ravens are champs ... really?

The Baltimore Ravens won Super Bowl XLVII, 34-31, in a wildly entertaining game. After the regular season they had, the Ravens' ride to the title is still a bit of a head-scratcher.

Julio Cortez/AP
Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis (l.) and quarterback Joe Flacco celebrate their 34-31 win against the San Francisco 49ers in the NFL Super Bowl XLVII football game Sunday in New Orleans.

11:25 p.m. Eastern time | Ravens win Super Bowl, 34-31

Well, it's happened again. For the second year running, despite a fantastically entertaining game, the actual crowning of the Super Bowl champion elicits a little bit of a furrowed brow and a "really?"

The Baltimore Ravens are fully deserving Super Bowl champions because, well, they won the Super Bowl. There's really no argument against that. But they underscore a trend that is only gaining momentum: that the Super Bowl winner is not necessarily the best team – as were the Cowboys and 49ers and Steelers of old – but the one that gets hot at the right time.

Football, it seems, has become more like hockey, where teams can squeak into the Stanley Cup playoffs and ride a hot goalie to the Cup. This year, the Ravens rode the emotion of Ray Lewis and the arm of Joe Flacco, who looked only vaguely like Joe Flacco once the playoffs began (in a good way).

For parts of the year, the Ravens looked almost pitiable, just as the New York Giants did the year before. But in a salary-cap era, when teams cannot build juggernauts but instead seek to manage their weaknesses, even the best teams are not infallible. Not even close.

From Week 1 to Week 17, the Ravens were not the best team in football. Not even Top 5. But from Week 18 on, the Ravens were unquestionably No. 1, and for that, they are fitting champions.

– Mark Sappenfield

10:21 p.m. Eastern time | The ads are getting better

Remember Lincoln? The old Ford luxury brand has been a nearly invisible for the past 20 years and it is finally getting a makeover and infusion of marketing money and energy. Trouble is, the new MKZ model is a pretty homely car design. So all the creative ads in the world won't turn it into a prince. The other trouble is, the ads are as awkward as the car design. The big idea? A Jimmy Fallon contest to write in your quirkiest road trips that would then be turned into Lincoln commercials... What could possibly go wrong with that? 

The game is finally getting interesting and advertisers are saving the best for last. The best? Budweiser's perfect little tale of a colt and his trainer. Did you see it? Need a tissue? Nothing to be ashamed of. Anheuser Busch has ridden the Clydesdale concept hard for decades, and to come up with such a classic new story to tell after all this time is impressive. And who can resist Fleetwood Mac's “Landslide.”

“So God made a farmer.” Dodge Ram trucks. What a deeply affecting ad, with the late radio commentator Paul Harvey's eloquent tribute to the American farmer underpinning a series of Paul Strand-style photographs of stoic farm families and their farms. Moved me and moved up near the top of this year's best rankings.

Jeep also scored earlier with an elegant paean to America's returning troops. The concept is that the overseas war they fight is “only half the battle.” Stirring stuff.

Do any of these make your list of top Super Bowl ads of all time?

– John Kehe

10:10 p.m. Eastern time | Did the power outage change the game? 

Thirty-four minutes. Thousands of jokes on Twitter. And a complete momentum shift.

In that span of time, a game that looked like a blowout at the opening of the second half turned into one very much in doubt.  It was 28-6 Ravens before the blackout. After the outage, the 49ers scored 17 unanswered points before the Ravens responded with a field goal. Three of those 49er points came when David Akers missed a field goal but got another shot after a dumb Ravens penalty. A Ravens team that looked in complete and total control pre-blackout has looked old and slow post-blackout.

I have a lot of questions about this: 1. Is there ANYTHING that can bother Colin Kaepernick? He and the 49ers seem totally unfazed by being in the dark for half an hour. 2. Are we about to see one of the unlikeliest Super Bowl comebacks ever? 3. If we do, will it be forever tainted by the 34-minute blown fuse that just happened, undoubtedly halting the locked-in momentum that the Ravens were enjoying? 4. Is this what we get for letting siblings coach against each other in the Super Bowl? 5. Did Beyoncé do this?
With 10 minutes left, the game is on a knife edge. QB Colin Kaepernick just scored to bring the 49ers within two: 31-29. The two-point conversion failed. Hold on tight.

– Schuyler Velasco

9:08 p.m. Eastern time | Best tweets about the power outage

The Superdome loses power. Twitter comes to the rescue. Here are the best tweets so far: 

Meredith Blake @MeredithBlake
Beyonce literally shut it down.

Kyle Clark @KyleClark
I've kicked the Playstation cord out of the wall before, too. Well played Jim Harbaugh.

pourmecoffee @pourmecoffee
The intensity of Ray Lewis' feelings KNOCKED THE POWER OUT.

Bill Simmons @BillSimmons
Waiving 5-year waiting period and inducting this into the "Strangest Things That Have Happened At A Game I Attended" HOF.

David Corn @DavidCornDC
Finally, America cares about the infrastructure in NOLA.

The Dark Lord @Lord_Voldemort7
The Stadium just went into a #blackout. Clearly the dementors showed up a little late to watch Beyonce.

julieplec @julieplec
NBC and JJ Abrams just 'Revolution' photobombed the Superbowl.#blackout

Onion Sports Network @OnionSports
Over 100 NFL players without power in New Orleans right now. Please help. Every donation counts. #SuperBowl

Joe Randazzo @Randazzoj
Guys I'm AT the #SuperBowl and this power outage is no joke. Most of us have broken into small but loyal factions. I am a now a doctor.

– compiled by Schuyler Velasco

8:56 p.m. Eastern time | Beyoncé struts her stuff

Beyoncé just nailed the halftime show! I'm pretty sure she did anyway. She danced great, she looked great, she sang great, interacted with the dazzling special effects great, waved her arms great, tossed her hair around great. And if that's what Beyoncé is all about, she could not have done it better. As far as music goes... Well, she's an awesome dancer. 

Were there actual songs tonight? Did I miss something amid all the "whoa oh ohs" and chanting and stuff? Did Destiny's Child appear and then hurriedly leave the stage? I did hear the words “single ladies,” but as soon as it registered it was back to "whoa oh oh ohs" and arm waving again.

I was looking forward to a Beyoncé concert tonight, all I got was a show.

Was it one of the best halftime shows ever? You decide.

P.S. The stadium just went dark. I think the halftime show blew out the grid.

– John Kehe

8:47 p.m. Eastern time | Kaepernick's pick and Jacoby Jones (again)

One odd bit of sad trivia making the web rounds: Colin Kaepernick just became the first 49er in history to throw an interception in the Super Bowl.
A high pass from Kaepernick was picked off by Ed Reed in the second quarter. Hall of Famers Joe Montana and Steve Young were pick-free in a combined five trips.
It was historic for Reed too, but in a good way: The safety now has nine career playoff interceptions, tying a league record. He had gone to the locker room earlier in the half with an apparent injury.
I’m not sure the Kaepernick interception means much. Plenty of good quarterbacks have been picked off in the Super Bowl. The Ravens have flustered the young quarterback more than most defenses in recent weeks, holding him to 139 passing yards and just 16 yards rushing, with no touchdowns.
The far bigger problem is that Ravens kick returner Jacoby Jones continued to play the invisible man (to defenses), running the opening kickoff of the second half back an NFL-record 109 yards for a touchdown for a 28-6 score.

And now, a power outage. When the power comes back, Kaepernick will have a massive job on his hands.

– Schuyler Velasco

8:15 p.m. Eastern time | Audi the clear Super Bowl ad winner

Shall we should declare the Audi prom ad a newly minted classic tonight? Simple idea, executed with finesse, starting with the casting of the dateless teen, to the compassionate dad, to our kissable prom queen. The final, throaty car acceleration and “whooooo!” from our transformed protagonist is the perfect exclamation point. Was it one of the best Super Bowl commercials ever?

Taco Bell's spot with geriatrics acting like teens is a tired idea with an off-putting execution. It's the Betty White idea that's been milked for decades. Should have been titled “No Mas.”

Go Daddy had a good idea with their ad where various parties around the world have a killer concept but can't believe anyone would have the same brainstorm. It's a near miss because the snarky Old Navy-style ending seems to be from another commercial entirely.

The new Coke “chase is on” spot is a whole lot of noise and fury signifying exactly zip. It's hard to imagine what the cast of thousands, aerial shots and stunt-persons cost the sodamaker, but whatever it added up to, it was a big fat zero. I get that it's all about a contest, but they might want to watch the Fiat or Audi ads for a new approach that might actually make Coke attractive to an audience.

Doritos, ditto.

– John Kehe

7:58 p.m. Eastern time | Ravens fake field goal

In the 2010 Super Bowl, New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton took a huge risk – calling for an onside kick to start the second half – and was rewarded. Ravens coach John Harbaugh's decision to go for the fake field goal was similarly brilliant. He was playing for a  21-3 lead – combined with receiving the second-half kickoff. And even if the ploy failed (which it did), it gave the ball to a quarterback who's making his 10th career start, just got intercepted, and suddenly looked jittery. That's brilliant strategy.

In the end, the 49ers went three-and-out, setting up the Ravens for Joe Flacco's bomb to Jacoby Jones, who, it seems, opposing teams have made a pact not to cover on the most crucial plays of the game. (Yes, Jones was also the beneficiary of the Great Bronco Bust.)

Colin Kaepernick's interception hurt, but the turning point of the half was LaMichael James's fumble. If he holds on, 49ers are driving and perhaps get a touchdown. Entire complexion of the game is different. At half time, 21-6 Ravens.

And the fights and scuffles? This is, after all, a HarBowl. What did you expect?

– Mark Sappenfield

7:30 p.m. Eastern time | Amy Poehler Best Buy ad

Talk about hitching your wagon to a falling star, what was comedy comet Amy Poehler thinking when she signed on to shill for faltering Best Buy? But is there a more likeable or funnier woman (or man) working on TV today? Not in my book. Maybe America will agree and go upgrade their big-screen TVs or something just because we like her so much. The first Best Buy Super Bowl commercial was hilarious. Go Amy, go! 

On the movie trailer front, so far every coming attraction has been a coming detraction, aimed at the video-game set. A big no thanks to "Oblivion," "The Lone Ranger," "World War Z," and whatever that noisy The Rock thing they just foisted on us was.

– John Kehe

7:25 p.m. Eastern time | Anquan Boldin gets the scoring started.  

On the Ravens’ opening drive, Joe Flacco found Anquan Boldin up the middle for a short touchdown after a 51-yard drive.  It was a fast, efficient drive that was in stark contrast to the 49ers, who looked uncharacteristically unorganized and confused in their first offensive outing. The 49ers second drive resulted in a 36-yard field goal from troubled kicker David Akers.

In the second Ravens drive, Boldin made an improbable deep sideline catch from an off-balance Flacco to extend the drive, which ended with a sack and a Ravens punt.

That Flacco found Boldin first isn’t at all surprising. The Ravens receiver has been a huge part of the team’s postseason success thus far, with four touchdowns so far. He’s a huge threat in traffic ­ – if it’s a contested or high catch, Boldin, with his imposing size and huge, strong hands, is probably coming down with it.

This is the second trip to the Super Bowl for the ninth-year receiver out of Florida State. Drafted by the Cardinals in 2003, he participated in that team’s Super Bowl in 2008. We’ll be hearing his number called plenty as this game wears on.

– Schuyler Velasco

7:08 p.m. Eastern time | Alicia Keys and the Sandy Hook choir

The Sandy Hook kids did themselves proud, don’t you think? Their pre-recorded vocal soared with all the innocence of lives just begun, and their little sidestep choreography added just the right touch of lightness to a misty moment. And what a star Jennifer Hudson has turned out to be. That girl can flat bring it and she’s getting more lovely every time we see her. 

I can’t help but think that Alicia Keys was thinking about Motown great Marvin Gaye when she was preparing her rendition of the national anthem tonight. “Nice and slow, take your time” she must have been saying to herself, channeling the vibe of Marvin’s legendary 1983 NBA All-Star Game performance.

Homage or not, Ms. Keys seemed to capture the stadium’s attention and had me hanging on every word of the anthem, which can be a lesser singer’s quicksand.

–John Kehe

6:39 p.m. Eastern time | CBS report card

Super Bowl pregame coverage on CBS: Thumbs up. 

The Tiffany network has earned another feather in it's cap today, with an entertaining, informative, and creative run-up to what promises to be a good football game. I tuned in around noon just in time to catch an eye-opening and heart-warming report by jazz great and Big Easy native Wynton Marsalis, on the post-Katrina music scene in his battered but beloved city.

A bit later I was impressed to see a well-researched and sober look at the growing NFL crisis of concussions, with some unpleasant but necessary detail of the toll they take and the scrambling the league and players' organizations are doing to help America's game survive.

Both legendary Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, in his final contest, and 49ers rookie phenom quarterback Colin Kaepernick have fascinating and moving stories to tell, and CBS did a fine job on each, adding even more context and drama to the biggest game of all. 49ers tight end Vernon Davis paid tribute to discarded San Francisco head coach Mike Singletary in a riveting interview that should result in Singletary's hiring by some NFL team any day now.

Serious, informed, entertaining, and compassionate television. Made my day.

– John Kehe

5:45 p.m. Eastern time | Buffalo Wild Wings is Super Bowl's big winner 

The surprise winner of Super Bowl XLVII? Buffalo wings.

In the lead up to the Super Bowl, the stock price for the wings chain Buffalo Wild Wings was up 3.5 percent per share in midday trading Friday. It finished the day up 2.41 percent at $75.32 per share. The investment website Seeking Alpha speculates that “Traders may be pulling an old play out of their playbook, loading up on Super Bowl-related stocks Buffalo Wild Wings, Domino's Pizza, and Papa John's in front of the game. The adage is that when the firms report the number of pizzas or chicken wings they sold during Sunday the staggering figure will be good for a slight bounce for share prices.”

Buffalo wings have been on a media blitz in recent weeks.  Increased demand combined with the after-effects from a summer drought sent projected chicken wing prices soaring 50 percent and fueled rumors that a chicken wing shortage might plague the hungry American public on Super Bowl Sunday. The National Chicken Council quashed such rumors.

Check out the Monitor's comprehensive chicken wing coverage, from their Super Bowl prospects to the chances of them breaking your budget.

– Schuyler Velasco

5:45 p.m. Eastern time | Commercials worth staying put for

Wondering why most Super Bowl advertisers are releasing their commercials early this year, when traditionally they've been very stealthy? One word: YouTube. (OK, so two words.) A spokesman from the star-making site estimates that the ads are seen online by at least 600 percent of the audience that will see them (or be on a bathroom break) when they air during the game.

OK, so the ones to watch:

Fiat goes all in with a sexy charm offensive this year, with four captivating commercials. Keep an eye out for those, particularly one featuring a randy scorpion on a mission (as well as Italian supermodel Catrinel Menghia).

Continuing on the automotive front, Hyundai pulls to the front of the pack with a trio of ads featuring Jeff Bridges' laconic voice-overs. One everybody can relate to is based on the ubiquitous DTM, “don't tell mom,” showing us all the fun and mischief a father and child can have out and about in their Hyundai Santa Fe. Stick around for the DTD punch line.

Keep an eye out for an Audi ad called “The Prom.” Let's just say that going to the big dance alone is not so bad if dad let's you take the Audi.

Everybody by now has seen the headlines about the VW “Be Happy” spot being “racist.” I certainly don't want to jump into a controversy, but the ad is very funny and well-conceived, though it's hard to imagine it will sell many VW bugs (which only appears in the last 10 seconds of the ad).

Skechers scores with a hilarious take on a National Geographic-style spot for their running shoes, and last but certainly not even close to least: the new Budweiser clydesdale “colt and trainer” ad is an instant classic.

OK, so it's time to get your snacks sorted out– we've got some commercials to watch! (I understand there's a game of some sort, too.) 

– John Kehe

5:15 p.m. Eastern time | Is Joe Flacco the new Eli Manning?  

See if this sounds familiar: A decidedly decent franchise quarterback for a perennial contender goes on the radio, and says he thinks he’s one of the best. A middling season follows. Everyone calls him a bust. Then he flips the switch in the playoffs, helming a team that looked all but done in December to an improbable Super Bowl berth.

It happened last season with Eli Manning. And it’s happening this year with Joe Flacco.

Back in April, Flacco was asked on Baltimore sports radio station WNST if his agent was correct in calling him a “top five quarterback in the NFL.”

“Without a doubt. What do you expect me to say?” Flacco replied.

His comments were met with knowing derision, and the Ravens went on to a regular season that looked downright shaky at times. They backed into the playoffs, but the Ravens and Flacco have looked like a different team since. The QB’s playoff performance has been cool as the fresh-produce section: He’s thrown eight touchdowns and zero interceptions, completing 54.8 percent of his passes with a 114.7 quarterback rating (out of a possible 158.3). Impressive, especially when you consider that the deep ball – which often yields inconsistent stats – is his weapon of choice.  

Last year, Manning completed 65 percent of his passes and threw nine touchdowns and one interception during the Giants’ Super Bowl run. If things go well for Flacco, he will post a similarly strong showing.

Personality-wise, the two are reported to have a lot in common. Manning is widely regarded as unflappable, a quality revered when the Giants are winning and mocked when they are losing. Last week in The New York Times, Flacco’s own father called him “dull.”

But if recent years are any indication, the playoffs might be a calm man’s game. We’ll see tonight if Flacco’s cool will take him as far as the younger Manning’s.

– Schuyler Velasco

4:40 p.m. Eastern time | Super Bowl start time

Of course, no one wants you to know when the actual Super Bowl kickoff will be. That way, you’ll be forced to watch the Alicia Keys rendition of the national anthem, the giant football helmets spewing fireworks, the ceremonial coin toss, the salute to Maryland crab cakes, and the Wonderful World of Ed Reed’s Beard. (OK, we might have made up the last two.)

Actually, because of all those things, the precise kickoff time is unknown. But it is expected to be around 6:30 p.m. Eastern time. Pregame festivities include Keys’s “Star Spangled Banner” and “America the Beautiful” sung by 26 students from Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

With the game being played indoors at the Superdome in New Orleans, weather won’t be an issue.

The game will be broadcast only on CBS and will feature the usual contingent of 30-second ads costing $3.8 million a pop. You can get ready by watching the best sneak previews of this year’s crop. 

This year’s halftime show will be by Beyoncé, who has promised us all that, this time, she really will sing live. You can judge for yourself and see if it is ranks as one of the 7 best halftime shows ever

The teams, of course, are the NFC champion San Francisco 49ers and the AFC champion Baltimore Ravens. The 49ers have won five Super Bowls, though none since 1995. The Ravens won their lone Super Bowl in 2001. The 49ers are favored.

This will be Super Bowl XLVII – or 47 – for the Roman numerally challenged.

– Mark Sappenfield

4:19 p.m. Eastern time | Peterson's big day

Peyton Manning’s comeback season with Denver was better than even his most ardent fans could have hoped.  But it wasn’t enough to beat out Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, who had an improbable comeback all his own. 

Last night, as the Super Bowl festivities ramped up, the Associated Press awarded Peterson its Most Valuable Player Award, as well as Offensive Player of the Year. He received 30-1/2 votes out of 50 from a national panel of media members. Manning received the remaining 19-1/2 votes. (How is a vote split in half? Great question…)

Peterson enjoyed a season the likes of which hasn’t been seen for a running back in decades, rushing for 12 touchdowns and averaging 6.0 yards per carry. He also rushed for 2,097 yards, nine yards and one scoring run short of Eric Dickerson’s single-season rushing record, set in 1984. He all but single-handedly rushed the otherwise mediocre Vikings into a wild card playoff berth, becoming the first running back to win the MVP award since LaDainian Tomlinson in 2006.

That he almost broke the record is remarkable in itself, as the NFL places more and more emphasis on the passing game and the running back position loses its importance.

But Peterson achieved all of this just a year after a serious knee injury knocked him out of the 2011-12 season.  He recovered in a matter of months, looking better upon return than he had when he left.

Manning’s comeback was no slouch either.  After sitting out a season with neck problems, he helmed the Denver Broncos to a No. 1 playoff seed and turned a receiving corps that had looked pedestrian under predecessor Tim Tebow into an group with elite numbers. He won Comeback Player of the Year for his efforts, to go along with his four prior MVP awards.

Any other year, he probably would have made it five. But an increasingly rare team-carrying year from a recovering running back just isn’t going to be beat.

– Schuyler Velasco

3:51 p.m. Eastern time | Is Kaepernick better than RG3?

OK, with the Offensive Rookie of the Year award won decisively by Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III Saturday night, we now know that RG3 has jumped into the early lead in the race to see who will be the best quarterback of the Class of 2012.

Tonight, Colin Kaepernick might take a huge leap past him. Sure, the San Francisco 49er quarterback is technically in his second year. But he's started fewer games than RG3 or his two rookie challengers, Andrew Luck or Russell Wilson. And the Big 3 of the rookie class are surely the standard against which Kaepernick will be judged.

And based on the early returns, he could be the best of the bunch. No one who saw his performance against the Green Bay Packers could argue that RG3 is out of his league as a runner.

Then Atlanta basically dared him to beat him with his arm after the Falcons jumped out to a 17-0 lead – and he did. Luck might have led a rookie-record seven late-game comebacks this season, but none were bigger or more impressive than Kaepernick's that day.

And in doing so, he one-upped Wilson, who had brought his Seattle Seahawks back against Atlanta the week before, only to lose.

In short, Kaepernick has all the tools: RG3's trickery, speed, and accuracy; Luck's mettle and bruising physical build (6-4, 230 lbs.); and Wilson's preternatural calm.

Rookie of the Year? Yes, he missed that award. But by the end of the day, Kaepernick might be the first of the Fab 4 to have what each wants most: a Super Bowl ring.

– Mark Sappenfield

3:19 p.m. Eastern time | Which commercials to watch for

Every Super Bowl Sunday is like a giant reunion, annually bringing people together in living rooms, dens and sports bars across the nation to watch the big game and pig out. (See our 21 easy Super Bowl recipes). The much-ballyhooed commercials also tend to bring familiar faces back year after year, and 2013's crop is no exception (check out the sneak previews).

World's sexiest race car driver Danica Patrick returns for (along with supermodel Bar Refaeli), The Rock is again rocking a milk mustache, Allstate's Mr. Mayhem makes another unwelcome visit, and once again “the Dude” (Jeff Bridges) makes his laid-back pitches for Hyundai. No Super Bowl is allowed to kick off without Budweiser's Clydesdales, and this year's touching horse tale is not to be missed. (Have some tissues on hand – I'm just sayin'.)

Coke and Pepsi carry on their escalating taste (and spending) wars this year, the hyper-precocious E-Trade baby is back in the crib with his fast-talkin' schtick intact, and Hollywood's coming attractions abound with a bevy of familiar stars like Johnny Depp ("The Lone Ranger"), Brad Pitt ("World War Z"), and Robert Downey Jr. ("Iron Man 3") all battling bad guys and – spoiler alert – saving the day!

And, of course, there are some brand new, er ... faces, too. (Cue Kate Upton Mercedes ads.)

So stay tuned to this spot for The Monitor's picks for Super Bowl XLVII's COMMERCIALS TO STAY PUT IN YOUR LAY-Z-BOY RECLINER FOR. (If you say the last part really loud in an announcer voice, it makes it very Super Bowly-sounding, seriously.)

Until then, you can enjoy the Monitor's picks for the five best Super Bowl commercials of all time.

– John Kehe

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