Ellie Stringer reports on last night’s Super Bowl that saw the Baltimore Ravens triumph over the San Fransisco 49’ers in a night of sport that had the world at the edge of its seat.
Upon first hearing that the Super Bowl XLVII was coming to the BBC, I was dubious: “A fake, slow, boring version of rugby played by a bunch of softies in armour” but my, oh, my, I couldn’t have been more wrong!
The first half (two quarters) of the game was spent trying to comprehend jargon like “line-backer”, “double coverage”, “incomplete pass” and “punting”, but after a few Bud Lights and a LOOOOT of Twitter banter, it all started making sense.
I soon realised that the “Harbaugh Rivalry” wasn’t a sneaky Yank tactic, but referred to the coaches of the two opposing sides– Jim Harbaugh for the San Francisco 49ers and his elder brother John for the Baltimore Ravens. The halftime counter struck after a terrible performance from The 49ers who were trailing 21-6, and it seemed as if that was the end for SF.
The lights dim in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and after a few minutes of bustling on the field, it had been transformed into the most dynamically designed stage I’ve ever laid eyes on. Beyoncé appears on a huge LCD display dance floor with her usually scantily-clad dancers and sings. Actually sings. The stage folds up, the stage folds down, fireworks shoot out of a guitar and we forget about the lip-syncing fiasco at the inauguration last week. The set visuals are psychedelically entrancing, and just when you think it couldn’t get much better, I let out the most girly scream “It’s Destiny’s Child!” and Kelly and Michelle join her to the joy of the 71,000 onlookers.
Now I’m admittedly not the biggest fan of the over-hyped, octane-filled, heavily-endorsed events in The States (having personally experienced a few), but it was impossible not to be enthralled in the atmosphere and excitement of it all.
Soon, the stage was wheeled off, and the gladiators of players returned to play the third quarter. And it will go down in history. The first kick off resulted in a record breaking touchdown (like a try but you don’t need to set the ball down) from Ravens’ Jacoby Jones who ran the full length (~100m) of the field completely dodging all opponents. The American commentators were left in awe, this was something very, very special indeed, but it wasn’t the only surprise of the night: far from it.
Both the appearance of Destiny’s Child and Jones’ new NFL record proved to be too much for the stadium’s electric wiring and BOOM! the stadium encountered a blackout. A blackout that lasted a whole 34 minutes (another record) — much to the cursing anger of Ravens’ coach John who looked as if he was going to attack unidentified man-in-official-suit. My twitter feed went into overload, conspiracy theories were being thrown left, right and center and within moments, a Super Bowl Lights account had been created, people expected Bane to appear, and environmentalist Al Gore had been memed.
After a long wait, the game resumed, and it appeared that The Ravens’ flow had been stemmed. The San Francisco side was on the up and after Michael Crabtree’s magnificent touchdown, the previously-mute 49ers fans roared for the first time. The gap was closing faster in the fourth quarter and the game looked like anyone’s bet at 34-31 to the Baltimore side, the 49ers only needed a 5 point touchdown to win. But with multiple time-outs, the clock was winding down, each brother trying his best to out-manoeuvre his counterpart, but after a controversial incomplete pass (when someone misses catching the ball), the possession turned to the Ravens’ side.
With seconds left, the Baltimore side held on to the ball, wasting time (which is allowed) and ran down the clock until their team-mates and colleagues splurged onto the field celebrating to a tonne of streamers and weird paper things flying from the sky. Giant men cried, muscly macho players kissed (not on the mouth… even though Gay Marriage is now legal in Baltimore), and a good time was had by all… apart from the red SF team who looked like they were going to carry out a mass-suicide pact in the dressing rooms.
By this time it was 4am in The UK. The team I had superficially decided to support had lost, I’d run out of weak beer and my dark circles looked like the Grand Canyon, but my spirits were not dampened – I had witnessed men bravely being tossed around like salad, National Football League history, the failure of a £500m stadium and sung ‘Halo‘ at the top of my lungs and now, at last, I understand why Americans think that their football is better.