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Power outage stops Super Bowl for 34 minutes

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Power outage stops Super Bowl for 34 minutes

NEW ORLEANS (AP) The Super Bowl turned into Blackout Sunday.

The biggest game of the year was halted for 34 minutes because of a power outage, plunging parts of the Superdome into darkness and leaving TV viewers 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 Sunday night.

About two hours after the game, won by the Ravens in a 34-31 thriller, officials revealed that an ``abnormality'' in the power system triggered an automatic shutdown, forcing backup systems to kick in. But they weren't sure what caused the initial problem.

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu called the power outage ``an unfortunate moment in what has been an otherwise shining Super Bowl week for the city of New Orleans.''

``In the coming days, I expect a full after-action report from all parties involved,'' he said.

Auxiliary power kept the playing field from going totally dark, but escalators stopped working, credit-card machines shut down, and the concourses were only illuminated by small banks of lights tied in to emergency service.

Most fans seemed to take the outage in stride, even starting up the wave to pass the time.

``So we had to spend 30 minutes in the dark? That was just more time for fans to refill their drinks,'' said Amanda Black of Columbus, Miss.

A joint statement from Entergy New Orleans, which provides power to the stadium, and Superdome operator SMG shed some light on the chain of events, which apparently started at the spot where Entergy feeds power into the stadium's lines. The problem occurred shortly after Beyonce put on a halftime show that featured extravagant lighting and video effects.

``A piece of equipment that is designed to monitor electrical load sensed an abnormality in the system,'' the statement said. ``Once the issue was detected, the sensing equipment operated as designed and opened a breaker, causing power to be partially cut to the Superdome in order to isolate the issue. ... Entergy and SMG will continue to investigate the root cause of the abnormality.''

The FBI quickly ruled out terrorism, and the New Orleans Fire Department dismissed reports that a fire might have been the cause.

Auxiliary power kept the playing field and concourses from going totally dark.

On the CBS broadcast, play-by-play announcers Jim Nantz and Phil Simms went silent. Sideline reporter Steve Tasker announced to viewers a ``click of the lights'' as the problem. 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 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 the victory.

The blackout, it turned out, became more of a footnote than a spark to what would have been the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history.

``It just took us longer to lose,'' moaned San Francisco linebacker Ahmad Brooks.

No one could remember anything like this happening in the title game, but it wasn't unprecedented.

Just last season, the Niners endured two power outages during a Monday night game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Candlestick Park.

``I didn't know what was going on,'' San Francisco safety Dashon Goldson said. ``I just tried to keep my legs warmed up.''

The Ravens felt the delay turned what looked like a blowout into a close game.

``It really hurt us. We had lot of momentum,'' fullback Vonta Leach said. ``We were rolling. That 35- or 40-minute wait, whatever it was, hurt our momentum as far as what we were trying to do. But we came out on top and that's all that matters.''

Safety Ed Reed said some of his teammates were worried that the game would turn when the lights came back on.

``The bad part is we started talking about it,'' he said. ``Some of the guys were saying, `They're trying to kill our momentum.' I was like, `There's two teams on the field.' But once we started talking about it, it happened. We talked it up.''

The public address announcer said the Superdome was experiencing an interruption of electrical service and encouraged fans to stay in their seats. Players milled around on the sidelines, some took a seat on the bench, others on the field. A few of the Ravens threw footballs around.

Officials gathered on the field and appeared to be talking to stadium personnel. Finally, the lights came back on throughout the dome and the game resumed.

``Let's go!'' referee Jerome Boger said to the teams.

The NFL said stadium officials were investigating the cause.

``We sincerely apologize for the incident,'' Superdome spokesman Eric Eagan said.

Once the game resumed, CBS said all commercial commitments for the broadcast were being honored. The network sold out its allotment of advertising at $3.8 million per 30-second spot.

``We lost numerous cameras and some audio powered by sources in the Superdome,'' said Jennifer Sabatelle, vice president of communications for CBS Sports. ``We utilized CBS' backup power and at no time did we leave the air.''

The outage provided a major glitch to what has largely been viewed as a smooth week for New Orleans, which was hosting its first Super Bowl since 2002 and was eager to show off how the city has rebuilt since Hurricane Katrina.

Monique Richard, who is from the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain, had tickets in the upper deck.

``My exact words on the way over here were, `I hope this goes off without a hitch,' because the city just looked so good, they were doing so well, the weather so good everything was kind of falling into place,'' she said.

New Orleans was once a regular in the Super Bowl rotation and hopes to regain that status. Earlier in the week, the host committee announced it will bid on the 2018 Super Bowl, which would coincide with the 300th anniversary of the city's founding.

The 38-year-old Superdome has undergone $336 million in renovations since Katrina ripped its roof in 2005. Billions have been spent sprucing up downtown, the airport, French Quarter and other areas of the city in the past seven years.

``Everything shut down,'' said Carl Trinchero, a 49ers fan from Napa, Calif., who was in the Superdome. ``No credit cards, vending machines shut down, everything shut down.''

Trinchero said it may have affected the momentum of the game but, given that the Ravens survived the 49ers comeback, ``it didn't affect the outcome.''

Joked Doug Cook, a Ravens fan from New Orleans: ``They didn't pay the light bill.''

Still, he admitted to a fleeting fear when the lights went out.

``I started thinking it was a terrorist attack. I was a little nervous,'' he said.

In the French Quarter, fans didn't appear much concerned with the power outage or delay in play.

``If we can blame Beyonce for lip syncing, we can blame her for the power outage,'' said Gary Cimperman of Slidell, La., with a laugh as he watched the second half of the game from a bar. ``Or maybe Sean Payton called in the outage, bountygate part two.''

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AP Sports Writer Brett Martel and Associated Press writer Brian Schwaner in New Orleans contributed to this story.

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Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963

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Ravens experimenting with getting Joe Flacco and Lamar Jackson on field at same time

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Ravens experimenting with getting Joe Flacco and Lamar Jackson on field at same time

Since drafting Lamar Jackson, the Ravens have made it clear that Joe Flacco is their starter. That doesn't mean they're not experimenting with having them both on the field at the same time, however. 

During this week's minicamp, the team has been lining Jackson up at multiple positions. 

"Gosh, I sure like him out there helping us," coach John Harbaugh said of Jackson during Tuesday's minicamp, via ESPN.com.

"If you put two quarterbacks on the field at once, what options does it create for our offense? That's what we're trying to figure out."

While at Louisville, Jackson rushed for 4,132 yards and 50 touchdowns in three seasons. That's more rushing yards than No. 2 overall pick Saquon Barkley. That unique skill set could be the creative options the Ravens are looking for. 

While at the NFL Combine, however, Jackson refused to workout at any other position than QB. 

"I have a lot of fun seeing what they come up with and what they're going to come up with next," Jackson said. "We'll see where it goes. You have to use your good players."

The Ravens are already viewing Jackson as one of those 'good players.' 

"Once he gets out of the pocket, it's like watching a young Michael Vick," LB C.J. Mosley said after minicamp practice. "It's amazing to watch. When you're defending him, you just have to act like you're tagging off -- you don't want to be on the highlight reel."

Harbaugh has alluded to the fact that the rookie will be active on game days, just exactly how they get the most out of him is what's in play.

"There's a lot of considerations that go into that," Harbaugh said of using two QBs at the once. "Everybody has an opinion. I've read a few. You want to find a way to get the most out of all your guys."

While Flacco isn't the fasted QB in the league, he has shown glimpses of running ability in the past. Figuring out how to utilize Flacco when Jackson is under center is where things will get interesting.

Interesting - as long as it works - is what Ravens fans have been searching for over the last several seasons. 

"Joe has to be able to do other things if [Jackson is] throwing the ball," Harbaugh said. "It gets the creative juices flowing for our offensive coaches, and they've worked hard on that."

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Ravens D-coordinator Don Martindale puts personal stamp on unit

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Ravens D-coordinator Don Martindale puts personal stamp on unit

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- There are no dreary work days for Don Martindale, who has overwhelmingly embraced his new role as defensive coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens.

After serving for five seasons as the team's linebackers coach, Martindale was promoted to coordinator in January after Dean Pees left the post.

Enthusiastic doesn't even begin to describe Martindale's attitude about being in charge of the defense.

"Ever since we've made this transition, it's been a joy to just come through those gates every day. I love it," Martindale said after Wednesday's mandatory minicamp practice.

This isn't the first time Martindale has been put in charge of molding a defense. In 2010, he watched over a unit in Denver that was the worst in the NFL in both yards and points allowed per game.

Given a second chance, the 55-year-old Martindale is putting together a defense that will rely heavily on the instinct of several of its most proven players, most notably safety Eric Weddle and linebackers Terrell Suggs and C.J. Mosley.

"He's just putting his personal fix on our defense and expanding it, giving the guys confidence to play fast," Weddle said. "The idea is to do what's best for the defense, not what's best the individual."

Martindale called Mosley "the quarterback" of a fluid unit that can make a snap-change from drop-back coverage to an all-out blitz. In that regard, Mosley believes this defense is superior to the one that in 2017 yielded 18.9 points per game, sixth-best in the NFL.

"The way we're able to use our core guys, put them in different spots and do some of the same things just from different positions, it's more creative, I would say, than where we were last year," Mosley said.

Baltimore coach John Harbaugh promoted Martindale rather than go outside the organization because he wanted to extend his vision of a defense that has evolved since his arrival in 2008.

"All we're doing is forwarding John's plan," Martindale said. "We're remodeling the package. It's still Ravens football, it's still Ravens defense, but we've streamlined it. It's the elegant simplicity. Guys are playing really fast."

Asked for his take on Martindale's defense, Ravens offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg replied, "They're fast and they're furious."

Sure, things might be different once the pads go on at training camp, but at this point, Martindale's boss likes what he sees.

"We're doing a lot of neat things on defense, things that are really good," Harbaugh said. "More than ever, we're putting it on our players to make decisions in real time."

Martindale has a new title, but old habits die hard.

"For the most part, it's been the same," Mosley said. "He always comes in and says, `I have to lead the linebacker room,' and sits down and gets to talking like he's back at linebacker coach."

Told of Mosley's disclosure, Martindale smiled and said, "I've been trying to stay out of there, but you can't help but go in. That's home. I have a good time in the secondary room as well."

And just about everywhere else.

"Where we're going with this thing is really exciting to me," Martindale said, "and I know it's exciting to the players."

In other training camp news, cornerback Jimmy Smith was a surprise participant at practice, going through a light regimen of individual drills just six months after tearing his left Achilles tendon.

"I don't know if Jimmy's like half Wolverine, but he's healed up in half the time of regular human beings," Weddle said, referring to the amazing recuperative powers of the Marvel super hero.

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