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Power outage electrifies CBS Super Bowl broadcast

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Power outage electrifies CBS Super Bowl broadcast

NEW YORK (AP) When the lights went out at the Super Bowl, CBS' telecast got a jolt.

The power outage in the Super Dome in New Orleans sent the network scrambling and silenced its announcers for about half an hour. The remarkable scene - probably the most-watched ``we're having technical difficulties'' moment in television history - also made CBS' broadcast compelling at a time when the game was looking like a blow-out.

Early in the game's second half, a portion of the Superdome lost power, including CBS' broadcasting booth where Jim Nantz and Phil Simms were calling the game. It led to an awkward, ambient few moments of darkness and quiet in a broadcast that's otherwise nonstop noise. A highly orchestrated media event was suddenly forced to improvise.

It took several minutes and numerous commercial breaks for CBS to find its footing and inform viewers of the situation. Social media went wild with a stream of joke conspiracy theories.

Eventually, CBS sideline reporter Steve Tasker - the MVP on the night, regardless of the play on the gridiron - announced the problem of a ``click of the lights'' to viewers. Later, the halftime crew anchored by host James Brown returned to fill time with football analysis. Brown said a power surge caused the outage.

That left the CBS NFL Today crew of Brown, Dan Marino, Bill Cowher and Shannon Sharpe to improvise by talking football. With little awareness of the power outage, the group bantered about the game to pad for time, even though viewers at that point had little interest in football strategy. Marino claimed halftime performer Beyonce knocked the lights out.

Calm and collected, Nantz and Simms finally returned from their unexpected exile as the lights came back on. Simms said he momentarily thought they were going to have to call the rest of the game from the sidelines.

``Hey, the next time you decide to plug in your phone charger, give us a warning, will you?'' said Nantz.

``I was doing some of my best work during that blackout,'' replied Simms.

CBS issued a statement later in the game, saying that ``we lost numerous cameras and some audio powered by sources in the Super Dome.'' The network said it used backup power and that ``all commercial commitments during the broadcast are being honored.''

The power outage may have had the ironic effect of keeping viewers glued to their TVs, amazed at seeing the biggest TV event of the year momentarily shut down. At the time of the outage, the game was becoming a rout, with the Baltimore Ravens beating the San Francisco 49ers 28-6.

But afterward, momentum shifted and the 49ers rallied, making it a close game that went down to the wire before the Ravens edged out a 34-31 victory. Close contests are essential for retaining a big Super Bowl audience, so the shift that followed the outage held major ratings implications for CBS. The last three years, the game has successively set viewership records. Last year's Super Bowl drew 111.3 million average viewers for NBC.

But ratings are a mere point of pride for CBS, with the ads sold-out well in advance, (some at more than $4 million a pop). The game was also streamed live on both CBSSports.com and NFL.com.

The chaos of the power failure outshined all other aspects of CBS' broadcast, which had seemed certain to focus on a handful of storylines: the head coaching brothers John and Jim Harbaugh (CBS scored their parents on the pregame); the threat to player safety by head injuries (a pregame segment took an optimistic view); and Ray Lewis' final game and fraught legacy.

Nantz reminded viewers during the game of the 2000 double murder case in which Lewis testified against two men and pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of obstruction of justice. But Sharpe, Lewis' former teammate, let him completely evade the subject in a pregame interview.

Nantz also smartly predicted the Ravens possibly taking a safety willingly at the end of the game for the sake of time and field position. Simms initially dismissed the idea, but it was what the Ravens elected to do and it was successful.

CBS didn't overplay the Harbowl angle (if anything, it felt more like the Beyonce Bowl), and didn't flash to the parents in the crowd until the second quarter. Director Mike Arnold did land the money shot of the game: The two coaches embracing at midfield after the game. (Its cameras and microphones also caught Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco celebrating with profanity.)

But this year's Super Bowl broadcast will be remembered for the blackout - how CBS handled and benefited from an awkward situation. Nantz put the fitting final word on the Ravens' win: ``The adversity they faced tonight was to somehow rekindle the energy after it had been taken - literally - out of the building.''

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Follow AP Entertainment Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at:http://twitter.com/jake-coyle

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Baltimore Ravens Week 6 awards after shutout win over Titans

Baltimore Ravens Week 6 awards after shutout win over Titans

The Baltimore Ravens went into the Tennessee Titans' home and completely robbed them in a 21-0 shutout win.

Here are the players and plays that stood out from the afternoon.

PLAYER(S) OF THE GAME: Ravens Defense

The Ravens defense had a historic afternoon recording a franchise-record 11 sacks. Yup, you read that right. 11 sacks.

Za'Darius Smith led the way with three, followed by Patrick Onwuasor with two and Matthew Judon, Terrell Suggs, Tony Jefferson, Kenny Young, Anthony Levine Sr. and Chris Wormley with one apiece. The 11 sacks tied for the second most by a team in league history and the most in a game since 2012.  It was so historic, the Ravens changed their Twitter name to included 11 S's. 

But that wasn't the only impressive part of the Ravens' afternoon. Marcus Mariota was limited to 10 completions and the defense allowed just 51 passing yards  —  the fewest in franchise history  — and 55 rushing yards. The Titans finished the afternoon 1-for-10 on third down as well.

With the shutout, the Ravens defense cemented its place as one of the NFL's most elite units in 2018. A win that must have been extra sweet after a 12-9 overtime loss to the Browns the week prior and with former defensive coordinator Dean Pees staring back from the opposite sideline. The Ravens remain the only NFL team to not allow a second-half touchdown this season. 

COMEBACK PLAYER OF THE GAME: Michael Crabtree

After dropping what would have been the game-winning touchdown Week 5 against the Browns, Michael Crabtree said his priority this week was to get back into the lab and correct his mistakes. Out the gate, the veteran receiver stayed true to his word finishing the Ravens' first drive catching three passes for 52 yards and one touchdown. Earlier in the week, Joe Flacco had faith his receiver would get over the hump of six drops in five games and was willing to stand by him until it happened.

"Besides just trying to give him the confidence that, you know, I'm still going his way when he calls for it and I still believe that it's going to be the difference...it's something that he'll definitely get over," Flacco said.

The patience worked as Crabtree finished the day with six receptions for 93 yards and one touchdown leading all Ravens receivers.

But more importantly, the relationship between Crabtree and Flacco continues to grow.

"That’s trust. That’s what you need in football, you know," Crabtree said postgame. "Quarterback, receiver relationship. It’s only going to get better. It’s all about how much time you put in, how much work you put in. I’m new; this is my first year here so I got to do what I got to do."

STAT OF THE GAME: Flacco makes his way into the history books

With 25 completions Sunday against the Titans, Flacco became the third different quarterback in NFL history to complete 25 or more passes in nine consecutive games, per the NFL's communication department. Drew Brees sits atop the list with 11 and 10 consecutive games followed by Peyton Manning with nine. Flacco finished the 21-0 win 25-for-37 with 238 yards, one touchdown and one interception. 

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Ravens pile up team-record 11 sacks against former defensive coordinator

Ravens pile up team-record 11 sacks against former defensive coordinator

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Baltimore Ravens swarmed around their new defensive coordinator, Don "Wink" Martindale, celebrating after a game that will go down in the record books.

Getting 11 sacks along with a shutout against the man Martindale replaced makes this mark even sweeter.

Za'Darius Smith had a career-high three sacks as the Ravens piled up the franchise-record Sunday in routing the Tennessee Titans 21-0 in the rain, just missing the NFL record shared by five teams by one.

Baltimore coach John Harbaugh called it an "historic defensive performance."

The Ravens (4-2) smothered Tennessee, allowing just 106 yards of offense while they turned Marcus Mariota's day into the worst of his NFL career. Eight different Ravens sacked Mariota, and four got their first sack this season at his expense. The Titans never got closer to the end zone than the Ravens 37, each time pushed back with yet another sack.

"We want to be something special out there," Ravens linebacker Matthew Judon said. "For Wink, it's great to go against his predecessor, and he stepped up and we came through and pitched a shutout. You don't ever talk about unicorns while you're doing it, but we got it done. We got it done for him, and we celebrated after."

Martindale was promoted to defensive coordinator when Dean Pees retired after last season. His retirement lasted less than a month with first-year coach Mike Vrabel luring Pees to join him as the Titans' defensive coordinator.

Asked about Pees, Smith only said that the coordinator told him at his pro day at Kentucky that the linebacker would be a Raven.

"Love him to death, but hey, we won tonight, so we're going to leave it at that," Smith said with a smile.

The Titans (3-3) had not been shut out at home since the franchise relocated to Tennessee.

"That's the headline: The `Tennessee Titans didn't do nearly enough on all levels to win the football game,'" Vrabel said. "Or even make it competitive."

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