'Abnormality' caused power outage

  • Pat Yasinskas [ARCHIVE]
  • ESPN.com | February 4, 2013

NEW ORLEANS -- As he ran 108 yards for the longest kickoff return in Super Bowl history, Jacoby Jones saw only one thing.

"Daylight," Jones said after helping the Baltimore Ravens to a 34-31 victory over the San Francisco 49ers. "Follow any avenue and it was daylight."

Lights Out
AP Photo/Marcio SanchezThe majority of lights went out in the Superdome during the Super Bowl, causing a 34-minute delay.

The irony was that Super Bowl XLVII forever will be remembered for a period of darkness.

Minutes after Jones gave the Ravens a 28-6 lead on the second-half kickoff, the lights went out in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Some backup lighting remained on, but play was stopped for about 34 minutes, and the international television broadcast was interrupted.

Officials from Entergy, the utility company supplying power to the Superdome, said the outage occurred when sensing equipment detected an "abnormality" in the system.

A statement from Entergy and the Superdome said that a piece of equipment monitoring electrical load sensed the abnormality and opened a breaker, partially cutting power. The statement said backup generators kicked in before full power could be restored.

"The power outage was an unfortunate moment in what has been an otherwise shining Super Bowl week for the city of New Orleans,'" Mayor Mitch Landrieau said. "In the coming days, I expect a full after-action report from all parties involved.

"For us, the Super Bowl isn't over until the last visitor leaves town, so we're focused on continuing to show our visitors a good time."

FBI special agent Michael Anderson said terrorism was not the cause of the power outage and dismissed reports of a fire as a cause. In addition, New Orleans Fire Department spokesman Michael Williams said no fire was reported before, during or after the power outage at the Superdome.

The New Orleans fire department was called to investigate a smell of gas near the Superdome's elevator No. 8, New Orleans police Sgt. T.J. St. Pierre said. The elevator was stalled on the seventh floor with people inside. The fire department tried to pry open the elevator from the basement, and it resumed operation after the power returned.

Entergy, the main power company in New Orleans, issued a statement saying the outage was not its fault.

"At all times, Entergy's distribution and transmission feeders were serving the Mercedes-Benz Superdome," the company said. "We continue working with Superdome personnel to address any outstanding issues."

Doug Thornton is the senior vice president for SMG, the company that runs the Superdome, but was not available for comment.

"We sincerely apologize for the incident," Superdome spokesman Eric Fagan said.

The NFL issued a brief statement during the game, saying the cause of the outage was being investigated. As postgame interviews of coaches and players were being held, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said the league would not be making further comment.

During the outage, NFL senior vice president Ray Anderson was seen in a hallway on the ground floor of the dome.

"Power outage," Anderson said. "We don't know."

The outage stopped the game, and it also appeared to alter its course. Up until that point, Baltimore had dominated San Francisco.

Players stayed on the field during the outage. Some laid on the ground while others spent time stretching. After the initial shock of the outage wore off, fans started doing the wave. Once full lighting was restored, it appeared as if the Ravens still were resting.

Led by quarterback Colin Kaepernick, the 49ers scored 17 points in the span of 4 minutes, 10 seconds in the third quarter.

"The problem was, we were talking it up on the sideline, like 'They're trying to take our momentum,' " Baltimore safety Ed Reed said. "And I was like, 'There are two teams on this field right here.' But once we started talking about it, it happened."

That set the stage for a dramatic finish under the brightest of lights. Kaepernick scrambled for a touchdown with 9:57 remaining, but the 49ers failed to convert a two-point conversion that would have tied the game.

Baltimore added a field goal with 4:19 remaining, but Kaepernick responded by orchestrating a drive that took the 49ers down the field with a chance to win the game. But San Francisco turned the ball over after Kaepernick threw three incomplete passes.

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.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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