The Super Bowl, America's iconic sporting spectacle, was interrupted for 35 minutes by a power outage on Sunday at the Louisiana Superdome, the first such mishap in the title game's history.
In the same Superdome where survivors of Hurricane Katrina fled for refuge in 2005 only to find peril and heartache, spectators who spent thousands of dollars to cheer their heroes were plunged into darkness and momentary chaos.
Joe Flacco threw three touchdown passes and Jacoby Jones returned a kickoff 108 yards for a touchdown to spark the Baltimore Ravens over the San Francisco 49ers 34-31 in the National Football League championship spectacle.
But safety and security concerns moved to the forefront 98 seconds into the third quarter when the electricity went out at the 73,000-seat stadium. Some lights returned after a few seconds. Others needed more than half an hour.
"We sincerely apologize for the incident," Superdome spokesman Eric Eagan said.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell presented the championship trophy to the Ravens after the game without a mention of the power outage that interrupted the contest with Baltimore leading 28-3, swiping the Ravens' huge momentum.
CBS reported that referees said an electrical feed into the Superdome went out, causing the power outage in the gridiron classic, knocking out some electrical equipment on the sidelines of each team.
But Twitter messages from Entergy New Orleans blamed the problem on the Superdome, saying, "Power issue at the Super Dome appears to be in the customer's side. Entergy is providing power to the Dome.
"At all times, our distribution & transmission feeders were serving Superdome. We continue working w/ Superdome to address any issues."
The National Football League said that "stadium authorities are investigating the cause of the power outage," and promised to provide more information when available.
Jones produced the longest scoring play in Super Bowl history on the kickoff of the second half and San Francisco took over from there, facing a third-down play needing 14 yards to ensure they keep possession of the ball.
That's when the lights went out, prompting screams and fans chanting in rhythm as half the lights in the stadium flashed on quickly, leaving the Super Bowl shut down in a bizarre situation and sending both teams to the sidelines.
While the remainder of the lighting powered back into full brightness, players were left in an eerie twilight to try and find ways to stay warmed up and keep their concentration, throwing or kicking balls or stretching with no idea how long their wait would take.
While the 49ers failed to convert when the game resumed and were forced to punt, they went on to score 17 points in the third quarter and seized the chance to challenge the Ravens team that had been dominating them.
"The Niners handled that really well," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "They came out and flipped the momentum of that game really well."
The Super Bowl has become something of a national holiday in the United States, with viewing parties boosting food and alcohol sales and viewership of game telecasts among the most watched television programs in US history.
A week of lavish parties and celebrity outings has become commonplace at every Super Bowl venue, far from the scene of devastation that the world saw in New Orleans eight years ago because of flooding and Hurricane Katrina damage.
The game was the first Super Bowl in New Orleans since that catastrophy and an unqualified success until the lights went out on the party.
CBS said that despite the power outage, all advertising commitments were honored on the telecast, many of them as valuable as $3.8 million for 30 seconds in a TV showcase like no other in American culture.
And of course, NFL players took to Twitter to comment on the power outage.
"What's the odds of this happening? That New Orleans voodoo??" tweeted NFL rushing champion Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings.
Players on both teams spoke with spectators near the field during the unplanned break while sections of fans performed the "wave."
Concession stands and scoreboards were shut down, as were lights in stadium hallways and even the locker rooms. Power went out in the media center as well, leaving journalists scrambling to find out what was happening.
The power outage came only a few minutes after a half-time show filled with electrical and lighting wizardry that starred pop diva Beyonce, one for which the main stadium lights were turned off.