LITTLE ROCK — Lukewarm at best, allegiance to San Francisco evaporated the moment Jacoby Jones busted out of the pack on his 108-yard kickoff return.
The Super Bowl is not a must-see and a rout is not compelling. Besides, 20 minutes away on another network was "Live from N.Y.: SNL." The synopsis said it was "The beginnings of the show."
A loyal fan when Chevy Chase, John Belushi, Garrett Morris, Dan Aykroyd, and Gilda Radner were among the mid-70s regulars and when watching a 90-minute show that began at 10:30 meant staying up until midnight, that programming was more appealing than 28-6.
The power outage in the Superdome encouraged the channel change.
At the first commercial break, the score was unchanged.
Right after Radner ignored the "Jaws" music and opened a door to accept a telegram and the news anchor got off the phone to tell us, "I’m Chevy Chase and you’re not," there was another break.
In New Orleans, all heck was breaking loose.
Michael Crabtree ran through a defender for a TD, Baltimore didn’t pick up a blitz, poor coverage made a bad punt worse, Ray Rice fumbled, kicker David Akers got a second chance, and it was 28-23.
So long SNL.
Watching the 49ers run off 17 straight, I tired of hearing how the 34-minute power outage had somehow sucked the energy from the lights and the Ravens. Maybe Colin Kapernick, making the 10th start of his career in the Super Bowl, was over his jitters.
As much as I appreciate Kapernick’s "Wow" factor, Joe Flacco was equally good in a more subdued way, running a low-risk offense and consuming time. At 28-23, the Ravens made two three-down first downs in a 12-play possession that lasted more than five minutes and produced three points. At 31-29, the Ravens’ possession was a similar 10-play mix that resulted in another field goal and consumed 5:38. Flacco was a combined 6-of-9.
Fast forward to San Francisco’s three incomplete passes from the Baltimore 5 and coach Jim Harbaugh’s criticism of the officials that I caught up on Monday morning.
It is the 49ers’ play-calling at the end that needs further review. On second down, Kapernick rolled right and the defense flowed with him, squeezing the field. Scrambling around leads to confusion; a sprintout in a predetermined direction is easier to defend. On third down, Kapernick threw to Michael Crabtree up against the sideline. Even if complete, he would have been out of bounds at the 2 or 3. On fourth down, a blitz hurried Kapernick and Harbaugh screamed that cornerback Jimmy Smith held Crabtree.
No flag. Viewers were told by the CBS crew that it is difficult to throw a flag in that situation and I wondered when that handkerchief-tossing prohibition kicks in. Is it only the last two minutes? If the infraction occurs with 2:10 to play, does a flag fly?
Harbaugh’s complaint about two holding violations while Baltimore’s punter was killing eight seconds in the end zone was valid, but a holding call would have resulted in a safety, anyway.
I did feel for the folks who participated in an office pool and were sitting on Baltimore 4, San Francisco 9 with seconds to play. The knowledgeable ones saw it coming, unlike a friend who had the Raiders 4, Washington 3 in a $100 per square contest in the 1984 Super Bowl. He exhaled after the fair catch of a punt at the Redskins’ 12 with 12 seconds to play and the Raiders in front 14-3 but was blindsided when Joe Theismann’s screen pass was intercepted by Jack Squirek and returned seven yards for a touchdown.
The final 23 minutes of the latest Super Bowl was entertaining, a smidge less than Steve Martin and Aykroyd doing "Two Wild and Crazy Guys," but entertaining nonetheless.
Harry King is sports columnist for Stephens Media’s Arkansas News Bureau. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.