NEW ORLEANS — For two long weeks, brothers John and Jim Harbaugh told anyone that would listen that Super Bowl XLVII was more than about them.
They were right.
The Harbowl, which was officially known as Super Bowl XLVII, was everything everyone hoped it would be — and a whole lot more Sunday night when the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers got together for what felt more like a family reunion in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
The first major sports championship to feature brothers as opposing head coaches was a thriller — and then some — with a 34-minute power outage thrown in to make the night even zanier.
In the end, John Harbaugh’s Ravens sent retiring middle linebacker Ray Lewis out with a ring on his finger after a pulsating 34-31 win against Jim Harbaugh’s 49ers in the first Super Bowl to be played in New Orleans in 11 years.
It was well worth the wait, however, when Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco fired three touchdown passes and wide receiver Jacoby Jones, a New Orleans native, had a 108-yard kickoff return — the longest play in Super Bowl history — to start the second half.
The Ravens (14-6) jumped out to a 21-6 halftime lead and increased it to 28-6 when Jones returned the second-half kickoff for the score that seemingly put them in command.
Shortly after that score, however, half the lights in the Superdome went out and electrical power was lost in the press box. The scoreboards also went out, which was just fine with the 49ers at that point.
But when the power was restored, the Niners (13-5-1) seemed to have a lot more juice as well, as they came back from a 22-point deficit and got within two points before falling.
“It was just a great football game … the way that game played out,” John Harbaugh said after his team held on for the win. “The way it was 28-6 and the lights went out with whatever happened.
“I just knew with Jim Harbaugh being on the other sideline and all the years we have been together that game was going to be a dogfight right to the end.”
He knew what he was talking about as the 49ers struck for two TDs in a span of 2 minutes, 21 seconds — getting the first on a 31-yard pass from Colin Kaepernick to Michael Crabtree and the second on a 6-yard run by Frank Gore to creep within eight points.
David Akers, who had two field goals in the first half, kicked a 34-yarder with 3:10 left in the third quarter to cap a 17-point run — trimming the deficit to 28-23 heading into the final period.
The Ravens responded with a 19-yard field goal by rookie Justin Tucker to stretch the lead back to 31-23 before the 49ers came back with a five-play, 76-yard drive to make things interesting.
Kaepernick finished it off with a 15-yard scoring run with 9:57 to play, but his two-point conversion pass which would have tied the game overshot Randy Moss in the corner of the end zone to hold the score at 31-29.
Tucker then added another field goal, this one from 38 yards out, with 4:19 left in the game to push the lead to five points before the 49ers mounted one last-ditch drive to what they hoped would be the winning touchdown.
But they couldn’t get the lead despite having a first-and-goal at the Ravens’ 7 following a 33-yard run by Gore. LaMichael James gained 2 yards to the 5, but Kaepernick failed to connect on three straight passes to Crabtree to end their last threat with 1:46 to play.
As the final pass fell incomplete, Jim Harbaugh pleaded for a defensive holding call against Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith.
But there were no flags, and the Ravens nearly ran out the clock before taking a safety with 4 seconds left.
That left one final free kick, which the 49ers’ Ted Ginn Jr. returned to midfield as the clock expired, and players and coaches from the Ravens’ sideline spilled onto the field.
“The final series of Ray Lewis’ career was a goal-line stand to win the Lombardi Trophy,” John Harbaugh said. “Ray said on the podium, ‘How could it be any other way than that?’ ”
“You know, honestly, the most exciting thing was the conversations we were having at the goal line,” Lewis said. “Nobody ever panicked, everybody looked at each other and there was no panic.”
Flacco, who had 11 touchdown passes and no interceptions in four postseason wins, staked the Ravens to their big lead in the first half en route to winning the MVP award.
Flacco lofted a 13-yard TD pass to wide receiver Anquan Boldin to cap their first drive, then tossed a 1-yarder to tight end Dennis Pitta while the Niners got only a 36-yard field goal from Akers.
Then came the big blow as the Ravens extended the lead on a 56-yard TD pass from Flacco to Jones.
Jones fell while trying to catch the slightly underthrown pass, then got up and spun away from a would-be tackler and scampered to the end zone for a 21-3 lead.
After Akers managed a second field goal on the final play of the first half, Jones broke the 49ers’ hearts with his big return up the middle although Flacco said he knew it wasn’t over at that point.
“You’ve seen those guys do it,” he said. “They have the ability to score and score quickly, and that’s kind of what they did there.”