When professional athletes say they want to give a “lights out” effort, they don’t literally mean it.
Emergency lighting kept auxiliary lights in the dome running, but several hundred banks of lights on the Superdome roof suddenly blinked off. Inside the dome, escalators stopped working and all concourses were minimally illuminated by small sets of secondary lighting.
The giant scoreboard went dark as well. The CBS broadcast never lost their live feed, but play-by-play announcers Jim Nantz and Phil Simms were cut off, leaving viewers with several minutes of awkward silence as cameras panned the darkened stadium.
After a commercial break, CBS sideline reporter Steve Tasker went solo, announcing that a '' a big click of the light switch'' caused the outage. The halftime crew came back on shortly thereafter.
NFL Network reporter Jeff Darlington tweeted out a picture showing "the outside lights ... completely out. Very, very eerie."
The NFL issued a statement during the outage that read: "Stadium authorities are investigating the cause of the power outage. We will have more information as it becomes available."
CBS initially reported the problem was caused by a failure of an outside power feed directed into the stadium, but that was quickly dismissed by Entergy New Orleans, the company that provides power to the Superdome and surrounding area.
Philip Allison, a spokesman for Entergy, said the Superdome was receiving full power and was quick to lay the blame at stadium personnel.
''All of our distribution and transmission feeds going into the Superdome were operating as expected,'' Allison said.
Shortly after, Entergy New Orleans sent out a tweet: "Power issue at the Super Dome appears to be in the customer's side. Entergy is providing power to the Dome."
The outage occurred shortly after Beyonce’s 12-minute halftime show that featured massive lighting effects, pyrotechnics and video effects.
After a 34-minute delay, the game was eventually re-started. Referee Jerome Boger called the teams to midfield and pronounced, “Let’s go!'' Despite a 49ers comeback, the Ravens held on for a 34-31 win.
During the blackout, the Superdome public address announcer said they were experiencing an interruption of electrical service and encouraged fans to stay in their seats. While players stayed loose on the sidelines tossing footballs and stretching, some fans did the wave to pass the time.
''We sincerely apologize for the incident,'' Superdome spokesman Eric Eagan said.
After the game, Mayor Mitch Landrieu called the power outage ''an unfortunate moment in what has been an otherwise shining Super Bowl week for the city of New Orleans.''
Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh joked about the outage after the game, at the same time acknowledging that his team could have handled it better after they saw San Francisco almost come within 2 points of taking the lead.
"Both teams had to deal with it," said Harbaugh. "I thought they dealt with it better, obviously. They were able to turn the momentum of the game.
Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs made light of the outage, saying he saw the 49ers head coach put in a phone call to have the lights turned out. He called it 'Order 66' – A Star Wars reference when all the cloned Storm troopers turned on the Jedi.
"Jim Harbaugh, he got a little trick up his sleeve, huh?" said Suggs. "It was too much at that moment, so I saw him radio into his little headset. He said: 'Red team go'. He gave out order 66. ‘Turn the lights out, slow the Ravens down'. It slowed us down, but it didn't stop us."