---- — The talk heading into Sunday's Super Bowl focused little on the actual game and more on the bigger stories.
We now know everything we could possibly want to know about the Harbaugh family. Then there was Ray Lewis. And the deer antler spray.
Coming out of Sunday's game, I expect more of the same.
While Baltimore's 34-29 win was exciting, the lasting impression of this Super Bowl will have less to do with the actual game itself and more to do with what happened off the field.
Credit the power outage for that.
For 35 minutes early in the third quarter, we waited for something to happen. And nothing did. We're used to delays in baseball, or even football when its played outside. But inside a dome? Unreal.
It was one of the oddest scenes in Super Bowl history, seeing half of the Superdome lights on, half off. Players sat around instead of playing. America got a half-hour bathroom and snack break. We all got today's water cooler topic.
When play resumed, Baltimore held a 28-6 lead and had dominated from the start. And suddenly, that went away.
Whoever turned the power back on at the Superdome did the same to the San Francisco 49ers.
A different 49ers team took the field post-power malfunction. Colin Kaepernick was ineffective in the first half. Suddenly, he was the Colin Kaepernick we've seen over the last nine games, leading San Francisco back from the depths of despair.
In four minutes of game time, the 49ers put up 17 points. And in the fourth quarter, they were a two-point conversion away from tying the game.
In the end, Baltimore hung on to win. Literally. If they played another couple of minutes — perhaps even a few more seconds — it may have been a different outcome.
That said, take away the power outage away and I don't think San Francisco ever makes a game out of it. Baltimore might have gone on to win the most lopsided Super Bowl ever.
In the end, I still don't know who the best team is. And I'm sure that debate will rage on for eternity at family gatherings in the Harbaugh household.
What we do know is this.
Joe Flacco is a good quarterback. Elite? That's not for me to decide. But now he owns a Super Bowl championship and the MVP title to go with it. There aren't a lot of quarterbacks in the NFL that can say that, and there are plenty of teams in the league who would someone of his caliber.
If the Ravens don't pay him this offseason, he just might find out how many.
Flacco was the biggest reason the Ravens won. On a team with big personality after big personality, Flacco's performance did the talking for him. He was 22-for-33 passing for 287 yards and three touchdowns — and against one of the best defensive units in the NFL. That's well deserving of his MVP trophy.
We also know that this is the end for Ray Lewis, but perhaps his 17-year career went one game too many. While it was no doubt impressive to see the Ravens rally behind their vocal leader, the allegations that came out this week about him using a banned substance has to tarnish, or at least cloud his legacy.
He never tested positive, and he never will. But when he hoisted the Lombardi trophy following the game Sunday, it didn't seem as sweet as it would have just a week ago.
I think we'll be talking about Ray Lewis for a long time to come. And you can say the same about this year's Super Bowl.