Via USA Today

alica keys

NEW ORLEANS — Super Bowl coaches John and Jim Harbaugh will have plenty to talk about at future family reunions about the time they met in perhaps the strangest game in Super Bowl history.

John’s Baltimore Ravens held on for a 34-31 victory vs. Jim’s San Francisco 49ers that came down to the Niners’ fourth-and-goal from the 5 that fell incomplete, a furious finish that might well never have happened but for a bizarre 33-minute delay for a power outage that turned the game’s momentum inside-out.

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Jim harangued the referees for what he felt was defensive holding on the game’s crucial play and John executed smart strategy at the game’s conclusion, ordering his punter to take an intentional safety while killing eight seconds, allowing the Ravens to end the game with a free kick.

And then the brothers walked to midfield and spoke briefly, patting each other quickly, and the confetti flew. The underdog Ravens served as pigskin proxy for their coach, who is 15 months older, and one Lombardi Trophy better, than his kid brother — but barely.

“How could it be any other way?” John Harbaugh said. “It’s never perfect, never pretty, but it’s us. It was hard (going against Jim), the hardest thing I’ve ever experienced. I told him I loved him. He said ‘Congratulations.'”

Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco made good on his boast prior to the season that he is an elite quarterback as he was named Most Valuable Player. He threw three first-half touchdown passes to cap a postseason in which he threw 11 TD passes with no interceptions.

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“It’s unbelievable,” he said on the victory stand. “I’ll tell you what: We don’t make it easy. But that’s the way the city of Baltimore is, that’s the way we are.”

Linebacker Ray Lewis ended his career with Super Bowl glory. “It’s no greater way as a champ to go out on your last ride with the men that I went out with,” he said, “with my teammates.”

Kaepernick threw incompletions to Michael Crabtree on second and third down on the 49ers’ final drive to set up a last crack at the end zone. A fade for Crabtree fell incomplete, though perhaps cornerback Jimmy Smith got away with a hold. Replays showed Smith, who had broken up the pass for Crabtree on a short out pattern one play prior, had a fistful of Crabtree’s jersey.

“Yes, there’s no question in my mind there was pass interference and then a hold on Crabtree on the last one,” Jim Harbaugh said.

Said Crabtree: “When somebody grabs you, you always expect a call, but you can’t whine to the refs. It is what it is.”

The Ravens led 28-6 before the outage because they were bolder and tougher and because the favored 49ers made critical mistakes, beginning with the first play from scrimmage, when they inexplicably lined up in an illegal formation, and the first play of the second half, when they gave up a 108-yard kickoff return to Jacoby Jones.

Shortly after that, banks of lights at the Superdome went out. Ravens cornerback Corey Graham was standing right at midfield, on the 50-yard stripe and in the center of the NFL logo. Graham threw his hands up into the darkness, as if he knew what the power outage would mean to his team’s momentum. And Graham was right