NEW ORLEANS — Ray Lewis' last ride ended with the Ravens needing a last stand at the goal line in Super Bowl XLVII on Sunday.
A 34-minute power outage at the Superdome just a few plays into the second half seemed to energize the 49ers, at the time trailing by 22 points after a Super Bowl record 108-yard kickoff return by Jacoby Jones.
But the Ravens defense played lights out during a goal-line stand in the final minutes that enabled the linebacker to retire with the Lombardi Trophy in a 34-31 win.
San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick led a furious second-half rally that fell short when the Niners were denied on four plays from the Ravens 7.
"The final series of Ray Lewis' career was a goal-line stand to win the Lombardi Trophy," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "How could it be any other way than that? We said many times after many of these games, 'It was not perfect, but it was us. This is who we are.' "
Lewis' departure coincides perfectly with the arrival of quarterback Joe Flacco as the Ravens' new leader. Flacco, who passed for 287 yards and three touchdowns, was named the game's most valuable player.
So much of the story line during the weeks leading up to Sunday's game was the Har-bowl.
It was the first time brothers had coached opposing teams in the Super Bowl, including 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh. Eleven ticks into the second half — enough time for Jones to go the distance — big brother had little brother in a head lock and was giving him noogies.
In the end, the Harbaughs were right — the players decided the game that lasted 4 hours and 14 minutes, the longest in Super Bowl history.
Two plays after Jones' kickoff return, the Superdome went dark due to a power outage. The delay helped the 49ers regroup, and they scored 17 points in a span of 4:10.
Kaepernick, playing in only his 10th NFL game since taking the job from Alex Smith, conjured memories of Joe Montana with his near comeback. He had a 31-yard touchdown strike to Michael Crabtree, and the 49ers capped an 80-yard drive with Frank Gore's 6-yard touchdown run.
When Niners cornerback Tarrell Brown stripped Ravens running back Ray Rice and recovered the fumble, it was game on. The teams exchanged field goals before the Niners had a chance to tie the score when Kaepernick scrambled for a 15-yard touchdown run. But his pass to Randy Moss on the two-point conversion was wide, and the Ravens clung to a 31-29 lead.
Flacco drove the Ravens to a field goal. Needing a touchdown to win, Kaepernick went to work, completing a 24-yard pass to Crabtree before Gore exploded for a 32-yard run to the 7.
"I was sitting there thinking there's no way. There's no way we stop them here," Flacco said.
But LaMichael James was stopped for a 2-yard run and Kaepernick threw incomplete to Crabtree three straight times. On fourth down, cornerback Jimmy Smith appeared to hold Crabtree in the end zone.
"Yes, there's no question in my mind that there was a pass interference (earlier in the series) then a hold on Crabtree on the last one," Jim Harbaugh said.
The Ravens ran down the clock as punter Sam Koch took a safety that left four seconds. And time ran out as Ted Ginn returned the ensuing free kick.
"That was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do," John Harbaugh said of coaching a Super Bowl against his younger brother.
"I told him I loved him."
Lewis missed most of the season with a torn triceps but returned for the playoffs, announcing he would retire at the end of the season.
So naturally, there the Ravens were, their backs to their goal line, trying to summon the will for a goal-line stand when it seemed the Niners would find a way.
"Nobody ever panicked," Lewis said. "Everybody looked at each other, and there was no panic. When you have that, when your back is against the wall and they have three more plays at the goal line, if we all do our jobs, they won't get in.
"To me, that was one of the most amazing goal-line stands I've ever been a part of in my career. What better way to do it than on the Super Bowl stage."
Lewis wasn't much of a factor, finishing with seven tackles. That didn't matter to the 17-year veteran out of Bartow and the University of Miami who sprawled on the turf after Kaepernick's fourth-down pass fell incomplete.
"My best play? When I saw that confetti,'' Lewis said. "When the clock hit triple zero. What we did as a team, it's the ultimate.
"We heard that we couldn't beat Denver. We heard we couldn't beat New England. We heard we couldn't beat San Fran. What wins is chemistry. What wins is togetherness.''