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New Orleans braces for fallout from blackout

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New Orleans braces for fallout from blackout

NEW ORLEANS (AP) A Super Bowl week that had gone so smoothly for the Big Easy suddenly turned bizarre when everyone was watching.

The lights went out on the biggest game of the year.

Just imagine the uproar if Baltimore had lost.

The Ravens were cruising along with a 28-6 lead Sunday night when, without warning, the power to the Superdome suddenly shut down early in the third quarter, plunging parts of the 38-year-old stadium into darkness and leaving TV viewers with no football and no explanation why.

For 34 minutes, the players tried to stay loose, the fans milled about in darkened corridors, and stadium officials scrambled to figure out what went wrong. The Ravens barely hung on for a 34-31 victory over the San Francisco 49ers, needing a goal-line stand in the closing minutes to preserve the championship.

``It really hurt us,'' Baltimore fullback Vonta Leach said. ``We had lot of momentum.''

About two hours after the game, officials revealed that an ``abnormality'' in the power system triggered an automatic shutdown, forcing backup systems to kick in. But they weren't sure about the source of the problem.

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

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

But there is sure to be some fallout for the city and the Superdome - especially since New Orleans plans to bid for the title game in 2018, in conjunction with the 300th anniversary of its founding.

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

Escalators stopped working and credit-card machines shut down, though auxiliary power kept the playing field and concourses from going totally dark.

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

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.

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.

``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. Safety Ed Reed said some of his teammates began to fret as the delay dragged 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.''

A few of the Ravens threw footballs around to stay loose. Others took a seat on the bench, or sprawled out on the turf.

``I was a little stiff when I got back out there,'' Baltimore running back Ray Rice conceded. ``I'm just glad we were able to finish the game and be world champions.''

Finally, the lights came back on throughout the dome and the game resumed.

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

Monique Richard, who is from the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain, had tickets in the Superdome's 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. ``Hopefully, everybody will be understanding.''

New Orleans was once a regular in the Super Bowl rotation and hopes to regain that status. The 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.

Maybe they forgot one of the basics.

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

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AP Sports Writer Brett Martel and Associated Press writers Brian Schwaner and Kevin McGill 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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Proposed NFL rule change would eliminate Ravens' intentional holding strategy

Proposed NFL rule change would eliminate Ravens' intentional holding strategy

BY TYLER BYRUM, @theTylerByrum

It made everyone do a double-take, then it made perfect sense to non-Cincinnati and non-Pittsburgh fans.

Back in Week 12 when the Baltimore Ravens held off the Cincinnati Bengals 19-14, it wasn't a single touchdown that made national headlines. Rather it was a game ending safety that cut a seven-point deficit to only five. 

On the final play, numerous Ravens players held the opposing Bengals, who were setting up to receive punt, with 11 seconds left on the clock. Punter Sam Koch, just sat back, draining the clock before finally running out the back of the end zone with the clock at zero. 

SEE LINK FOR FULL RULE EXPLANATION

Thursday it was proposed to the NFL's Competition Committee to make plays like this illegal. 

While it may be considered unfair to some, making this new rule would simply add to an already expanding rule book and only be used for a select handful of plays a year, maybe. 

Eliminating cleverness of coaches that are well versed in the NFL rule book, should not be the approach of the of rule adaptations. There is no impact on player safety nor does it make the game 'more watchable' (like the extra-point rule).

Not only that, but the new proposed rule just leaves another set of loopholes for coaches to take advantage of at the end of a game. What if team trying to score on the last play commits two offensive penalties just to get another shot at the endzone?

But before making a massive overhaul to fix all of the loopholes in the NFL rule book, can we establish what a catch is first?

MORE RAVENS: Tony Jefferson used Madden to make free agency decision

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Ravens mock draft roundup: Mike Williams continues to pop up

Ravens mock draft roundup: Mike Williams continues to pop up

Just over a month away from the NFL Draft, mock drafts across sport media sites are beginning to narrow in on players that fit specifically into blaring holes on a team's roster.

As the first wave of free agency has come through, a majority of the top names at each position has been snatched up. While the Baltimore Ravens can still sign a handful of free agents on the open market, getting backup or a young star in a key position can be a the primary goal. 

Here's a look at who some of the various analysts have the Ravens taking with their No. 16 pick in the first round. The general consensus is help in the defensive secondary and at the wide receiver position.

DE Taco Charlton, Michigan, Ben Standig, CSN-Mid Atlantic

Standing: At some point the Ravens must find an edge pass rushing replacement for Terrell Suggs. Charlton might be better stopping the run than rushing the passer right now and yet he had nine sacks in 10 regular season games.  

SEE STANDIG'S FULL 2017 MOCK DRAFT

SS Jabrill Peppers, Michigan, Rob Rang, CBS Sports

Rang: With starting safety Matt Elam a pending free agent and Eric Weddle poised to enter his 11th NFL season, the Ravens may very well be looking for help in the secondary in the 2017 draft. Peppers starred as a linebacker in 2016 but possesses the agility and speed to handle coverage.

WR Mike Williams, Clemson, Dane Brugler, CBS Sports

Brugler: The Ravens have plenty of speed at receiver, but only average size. Williams has only average speed, but his body control, catch radius and overall size are where he shines.

WR John Ross, Washington, Bucky Brooks, NFL.com

Brooks: An electric playmaker with speed to burn would be a welcome addition to an offense that wants to play long ball with Joe Flacco at quarterback.

DE Charles Harris, Missouri, Daniel Jeremiah, NFL.com

Jeremiah: Harris is a very productive edge rusher who is plenty athletic enough to drop in coverage if needed.

WR Mike Williams, Clemson, Chris Burke, SI.com

Burke: Baltimore has two receivers, Mike Wallace and Breshad Perriman, who can scorch defenses deep. They need a physical, intermediate threat. Check.

CB Marlon Humphrey, Alabama, Peter Schragers, FOX Sports

Schragers: I seem to be a lot higher on Humphrey than other mock draft pundits. Oh well. I’ll ride with the star of the Alabama defensive backfield from last season. The son of NFL running back Bobby Humphrey, he was a stud at the well-known Hoover High and a prime recruit of Nick Saban’s. An opportunistic player who started for two seasons in Tuscaloosa, Humphrey forced three fumbles and intercepted two passes in 2016. Baltimore already has added Brandon Carr and Tony Jefferson to its defensive backfield but might not be done.

RELATED: REDSKINS MOCK DRAFT ROUNDUP