Ravens overcome 49ers, blackout to win Super Bowl


Ravens overcome 49ers, blackout to win Super Bowl

From Comcast SportsNetNEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Joe Flacco and the Baltimore Ravens were turning the Super Bowl into a rout when, without even a flicker of warning, the power went off. When the game resumed 34 minutes later, the San Francisco 49ers were the ones playing lights out.Instead of a blowout, the blackout turned the big game into a shootout.The Ravens survived the frenzied comeback by the 49ers for a thrilling 34-31 win at the Superdome on Sunday night and their second NFL championship in 11 years."How could it be any other way? It's never pretty. It's never perfect. But it's us," coach John Harbaugh said after winning the sibling showdown with younger brother Jim. "It was us today."Barely.Leading by 22 points when most of the Superdome lights and the scoreboards went dark early in the third quarter, the Ravens used a last-gasp defensive stand to hold on after the momentum strangely swung to the 49ers. San Francisco receiver Michael Crabtree was bumped in the end zone on the 49ers' final offensive play -- the contact appeared incidental -- but coach Jim Harbaugh insisted a penalty should have been called."There's no question in my mind that there was a pass interference and then a hold," Jim Harbaugh said.As for the foul-up at America's biggest sporting event, officials revealed that an "abnormality" in the power system triggered an automatic shutdown, forcing backup systems to kick in. But no one was sure what caused the initial problem.Everything changed after that, though, until Ray Lewis and Co. shut it down. But there were plenty of white-knuckle moments and the Ravens (14-6) had to make four stops inside their 7 at the end."I think it speaks to our resolve, speaks to our determination, speaks to our mental toughness," John Harbaugh said. "That is what wins and loses games."For a Super Bowl with so many subplots, it almost had to end with a flourish.Flacco's arrival as a championship quarterback coincides with Lewis' retirement -- with a second Super Bowl ring no less. The win capped a sensational month since the star linebacker announced he was leaving the game after 17 Hall of Fame-caliber years.At 4 hours, 14 minutes, it was the longest Super Bowl ever.The loss of power left players from both sides stretching and chatting with each other. It also slowed Baltimore's surge, and that was considerable after Jacoby Jones' 108-yard kickoff return and Flacco's three touchdown passes made it 28-6.Flacco's big start boosted him to the MVP award."They have to give it to one guy and I'm not going to complain that I got it," said Flacco, who soon will get a rich new contract. His current deal expired with this win.Down by three TDs, back came San Francisco (13-5-1) in search of its sixth Lombardi Trophy in as many tries."As far as the power going out, that didn't change anything for us," tight end Vernon Davis said.Yet they got back in the game almost immediately.Michael Crabtree's 31-yard touchdown reception on which he broke two tackles made it 28-13. A couple minutes later, Frank Gore's 6-yard run followed a 32-yard punt return by Ted Ginn Jr., and the 49ers were within eight.Ray Rice's fumble at his 24 led to David Akers' 34-yard field goal, but Baltimore woke up for a long drive leading to rookie Justin Tucker's 19-yard field goal.San Francisco wasn't done challenging, though, and Colin Kaepernick's 15-yard TD run, the longest for a quarterback in a Super Bowl, made it 31-29. A 2-point conversion pass failed when the Ravens blitzed.Tucker added a 38-yarder with 4:19 remaining, setting up the frantic finish.Kaepernick couldn't get the 49ers into the end zone on the final three plays, and Ravens punter Sam Koch took a safety for the final score with 4 seconds left. Koch's free kick was returned by Ginn to midfield as time ran out.The Harbaughs then met at midfield amid the Ravens' confetti-laden celebrations."It's very tough," John Harbaugh said, referring to their conversation. "It's a lot tougher than I thought it was going to be. It's very painful."Only one other championship game in the NFL's 80-year title game history, Pittsburgh's 35-31 win over Dallas in 1979, featured both teams scoring at least 30 points.In the first half, Flacco was as brilliant as Tom Brady, Joe Montana or Terry Bradshaw ever were in the NFL's biggest game. The only quarterback to win a playoff game in each of his first five seasons -- his coach holds the same distinction -- was nearly perfect. Overall, Flacco threw for 11 touchdowns to tie a postseason record, and had no interceptions.The Ravens stumbled into the playoffs with four defeats in its last five regular-season games as Lewis recovered from a torn right triceps and Flacco struggled. Harbaugh even fired his offensive coordinator in December, a stunning move with the postseason so close.But that -- and every other move Harbaugh, Flacco and the Ravens made since -- were right on target. Just like Flacco's TD passes of 13 yards to Anquan Boldin, 1 to Dennis Pitta and 56 to Jones in the first half, tying a Super Bowl record.New Orleans native Jones, one of the heroes in a double-overtime playoff win at Denver, seemed to put the game away with his record 108-yard sprint with the second-half kickoff.Soon after, the lights went out -- and when they came back on, the Ravens were almost powerless to slow the 49ers.Until the final moments."The final series of Ray Lewis' career was a goal-line stand," Harbaugh said.Lewis sprawled on all fours, face-down on the turf, after the end zone incompletion."It's no greater way, as a champ, to go out on your last ride with the men that I went out with, with my teammates," Lewis said. "And you looked around this stadium and Baltimore! Baltimore! We coming home, baby! We did it!"It was a bitter loss for Jim Harbaugh, the coach who turned around the Niners in the last two years and brought them to their first Super Bowl in 18 years. His team made a similarly stunning comeback in the NFC championship at Atlanta, but couldn't finish it off against Baltimore."Our guys battled back to get back in," the 49ers coach said. "I thought we battled right to the brink of winning."The 49ers couldn't have been sloppier in the first half, damaging their chances with penalties -- including one on their first play that negated a 20-yard gain -- poor tackling and turnovers. Rookie LaMichael James fumbled at the Baltimore 25 to ruin an impressive drive, and the Ravens converted that with Flacco's 1-yard pass to Pitta for a 14-3 lead.On San Francisco's next offensive play, Kaepernick threw behind Randy Moss and always dependable safety Ed Reed picked it off. A huge scuffle followed that brought both Harbaughs onto the field and saw both sides penalized 15 yards for unnecessary roughness.Reed, also a New Orleans native, tied the NFL record for postseason picks with his ninth.Baltimore didn't pounce on that mistake for points. Instead, Tucker's fake field goal run on fourth-and-9 came up a yard short when Chris Culliver slammed him out of bounds.The Ravens simply shrugged, forced a three-and-out, and then unleashed Jones deep. Just as he did to Denver, he flashed past the secondary and caught Flacco's fling. He had to wait for the ball, fell to the ground to grab it, but was untouched by a Niner. Up he sprang, cutting left and using his speed to outrun two defenders to the end zone.Desperate for some points, the 49ers completed four passes and got a 15-yard roughing penalty against Haloti Ngata, who later left with a knee injury. But again they couldn't cross the goal line, Paul Kruger got his second sack of the half on third down, forcing a second Akers field goal, from 27 yards.When Jones began the second half by sprinting up the middle virtually untouched -- he is the second player with two TDs of 50 yards or more in a Super Bowl, tying Washington's Ricky Sanders in 1988 -- the rout was on.Then it wasn't."Everybody had their hand on this game," 49ers All-Pro linebacker Patrick Willis said. "We point the fingers at nobody. We win together and we lose together, and today we lost it."

SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Seahawks, Cardinals miss OT FGs, tie 6-6


SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Seahawks, Cardinals miss OT FGs, tie 6-6

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) Seattle's Stephen Hauschka and Arizona's Chandler Catanzaro missed short field goals that would have won the game in overtime and the Seahawks and Cardinals settled for a 6-6 tie Sunday night.

Hauschka's 27-yard field goal was wide left with seven seconds left after Catanzaro's 24-yarder bounced off the left upright.

The tie was the Cardinals' first since Dec. 7, 1986, a 10-10 draw at Philadelphia when the franchise was based in St. Louis. It was the first for the Seattle since entering the NFL in 1976.

Click here for the complete story

NBA Notes: League seems to be on upward surge in interest and ratings


NBA Notes: League seems to be on upward surge in interest and ratings

For so many years the NFL has had an almost impenetrable veneer in the way it has successfully pivoted away from a myriad of scandals that would have at the very least delivered a significant, noticeable blow to most professional leagues.

But that Teflon-tough image has taken a whacking of late with the league dealing with what has been for the most part an across-the-board ratings dip in its programming.

The NFL’s slide comes at a time when the NBA seems to be on a upward surge in terms of interest and ratings.

Kevin Durant’s decision to leave Oklahoma City and play for Golden State is a needle-mover across the NBA landscape. LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers are looking to defend their NBA title – a phrase no one thought they would ever hear even when James signed on for a second tour of duty – will certainly generate tons of interest.

The Boston Celtics added Al Horford to a team that many believe will be among Cleveland’s stiffest challengers, in addition to being a team that has played Golden State as well as anyone the last couple of years.

There are many hands responsible for the NBA having such a strong position on the professional sports landscape, chief among them being former commissioner David Stern.

He was in town last week as part of the Shamrock Foundation’s annual Gala.

Stern gave a rundown of what he’s been up to since passing the commissioner’s torch to Adam Silver.

He said he has been a senior advisor to a venture capital firm, counsels several start-up companies and of course a senior advisor to the NBA.

But it’s what he’s not doing – negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement with the player’s union – that seemed to bring him the most joy.

“That’s when I got the least amount of sleep,” quipped Stern.

But those sleep-deprived marathon sessions with owners and union leaders, have helped bring the league to where it is today – thriving with its players and the profits both seem to be reaping.

That’s why the reports of the NBA and the player’s union being close to coming to terms on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, make a lot of sense. The NBA or the player’s union can opt-out of the current CBA prior to Dec. 15, although that’s looking less likely to happen because of what should be a new deal that better reflects the economic changes that currently exist in the NBA.

This past summer saw the salary cap in the NBA balloon to $94.14 million after having been $70 million for the 2015-2016 season.

With both NBA players and owners profiting significantly from the new TV deal, most of the changes to come about (paying players on the rookie scale more money; increasing the dollar amounts for veteran’s minimum and team exception contracts) are just common sense rule changes that have both sides closer to getting something done sooner rather than later.

And while he’s not directly involved in any of the current dealings, what he accomplished prior to retiring as commissioner certainly laid the groundwork for what appears to be a relatively smooth negotiation period.

“I didn’t project anything other than I was leaving it in the most spectacular of hands with an All-Star executive cast and they would just do what’s right for the league and they have,” Stern said.

And as far as the current talks that have reportedly been ongoing for months, Stern understands all too well that the last CBA talks which led to a shortened, 66-game season led to changes that has both players and owners feeling better about current negotiations.

“I’m proud to say the league has gotten to a very good place in terms of the player’s share, the owner’s share and where they can all see this is something that pays to keep going,” Stern said. “It’s fun to watch from a distance and not be involved.”



So much for that logjam in the frontcourt for the Philadelphia 76ers. The latest big man to go down with an injury is Nerlens Noel who recently had “minor” surgery on his left knee that will sideline him for reportedly three-to-five weeks. Keep in mind that the Everett, Mass. native missed his entire rookie season following left knee surgery, although the Sixers indicate this was an arthroscopic procedure and is considered minor. He joins No. 1 overall pick Ben Simmons who suffered a foot injury that’s expected to keep him out until at least January. That means a lot of the trade rumors involving Noel (and Jahlil Okafor to a certain extent too) should cool off for a little bit.



Signing with Toronto during the offseason was supposed to be Jared Sullinger's chance at a fresh start. Unfortunately for him, things are looking a lot like they did in his early days in Boston. Concerns about his back dropped his draft-day stock from a likely lottery (top-14) pick, to falling in the Celtics' lap at No. 21. During his rookie season, he played well but had to have season-ending back surgery. With the Raptors, it appears he will miss some time early on due to a foot injury that occurred in the team's first preseason game which has kept him out of action ever since.  

“May be a little while before he comes back,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey told reporters recently. “He may get checked out just to see what else is going on.”

Sullinger’s weight was an issue during his time with the Celtics. It’s unclear what impact if any, it had on his current injury or whether it’s a factor in the injury keeping him out indefinitely. 



We have seen Metta World Peace (formerly known as Ron Artest) in lots of different basketball roles from hitting big shots to just hitting people.

But as a coach? That is reportedly being discussed by the Los Angeles Lakers brass as they try to trim their training camp roster down to 15 players.

MWP is likely on the outside of the 15-man roster now, but the Lakers still want him to be part of the organization. While it may seem a bit of a stretch at first, he does bring a wealth of basketball experience to the table, a player how has seen the highs and lows of the game in a way few players can fully understand or speak about with a great amount of credibility.



The LaMarcus Aldridge trade talk will be one of the storylines this NBA season. The Boston Celtics will continue to be discussed as a possibility, but the team to watch is the Phoenix Suns. They came close to convincing him when he left Portland for San Antonio. Phoenix provides him a team that can be built around him (which he wants), lots of shots (which he wants) and a team with no pressure on his back to lead them to major success (yup, he wants that too). … Michael Carter Williams’ stock seems to continue to tumble after winning the league’s rookie of the Year award. He’s going into his fourth season and he’s already on to his third team. … Multiple league executives believe Devin Booker is the best 20-and-under player in the NBA right now. He's good, but I'd probably take Minnesota's Karl-Anthony Towns.