Ravens Edge 49ers 34-31 in Electric Super Bowl

Baltimore Ravens defensive end Arthur Jones celebrates with the Baltimore flag after their 34-31 win against the San Francisco 49ers in the NFL Super Bowl XLVII football game, Sunday, Feb. 3, 2013, in New Orleans.
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Everything changed after that until Lewis and Co. shut it down. But there were plenty of white-knuckle moments and the Ravens had to make four stops inside their 7 at the end.

"I think it speaks to our resolve, speaks to our determination, speaks to our mental toughness," John Harbaugh said. "That is what wins and loses games."

At 4 hours, 14 minutes, it was the longest Super Bowl ever.

Flacco's arrival as a championship quarterback — he had 11 postseason TD passes, tying a league mark, and no interceptions — coincides with Lewis' retirement. The win capped a sensational four games since Lewis announced he was leaving the game after 17 Hall of Fame-caliber years.

The Ravens will become Flacco's team now, provided he reaches agreement on a new contract.

Flacco's three TD passes in the opening half tied a Super Bowl record. They covered 13 yards to Anquan Boldin, 1 to Dennis Pitta and 56 to Jones.

That start boosted him to the MVP award.

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"They have to give it to one guy and I'm not going to complain that I got it," Flacco said.

John Harbaugh had no complaints about getting that other trophy named after that Green Bay coach. But he struggled to balance it with the disappointment his brother was feeling.

"The meeting with Jim in the middle (of the field for the postgame handshake) was probably the most difficult thing I have ever been associated with in my life," the Ravens coach said.

The wild scoring made this the second championship in the NFL's 80-year title game history in which both teams scored at least 30 points. Pittsburgh's 35-31 win over Dallas in 1979 was the other.

The Ravens stumbled into the playoffs with four defeats in its last five regular-season games as Lewis recovered from a torn right triceps and Flacco struggled. Harbaugh even fired his offensive coordinator in December, a stunning move with the postseason so close.

But that — and every other move Harbaugh, Flacco and the Ravens made since — were right on target.

New Orleans native Jones, one of the stars in a double-overtime playoff win at Denver, seemed to put the game away with his record 108-yard sprint with the second-half kickoff.

Soon after, the lights went out — and when they came back on, the Ravens were almost powerless to slow the 49ers.

Until the final moments.

"The final series of Ray Lewis' career was a goal-line stand," Harbaugh said.

Lewis was sprawled on all fours, face-down on the turf, after the end zone incompletion.

"It's no greater way, as a champ, to go out on your last ride with the men that I went out with, with my teammates," Lewis said. "And you looked around this stadium and Baltimore! Baltimore! We coming home, baby! We did it!"

Jim Harbaugh, the coach who turned around the Niners in the last two years and brought them to their first Super Bowl in 18 years, had seen his team make a similarly stunning comeback in the NFC championship at Atlanta, but couldn't finish it off against Baltimore.

"Our guys battled back to get back in," the 49ers coach said. "I thought we battled right to the brink of winning."

The 49ers couldn't have been sloppier in the first half, damaging their chances with penalties — including one on their first play that negated a 20-yard gain — poor tackling and turnovers. Rookie LaMichael James fumbled at the Baltimore 25 to ruin an impressive drive, and the Ravens converted that with Flacco's 1-yard pass to Pitta for a 14-3 lead.

On San Francisco's next offensive play, Kaepernick threw behind Randy Moss and always dependable Reed picked it off. A huge scuffle followed that brought both Harbaughs onto the field and saw both sides penalized 15 yards for unnecessary roughness.

Reed, also a New Orleans native, tied the NFL record for postseason picks with his ninth.

Baltimore didn't pounce on that mistake for points. Instead, Tucker's fake field goal run on fourth-and-9 came up a yard short when Chris Culliver slammed him out of bounds.

The Ravens simply shrugged, forced a three-and-out, and then unleashed Jones deep. Just as he did to Denver, he flashed past the secondary and caught Flacco's fling. He had to wait for the ball, fell to the ground to grab it, but was untouched by a Niner. Up he sprang, cutting left and using his speed to outrun two defenders to the end zone.