Super Bowl: the top players and stories - big stars, cute pups & power cuts

It’s the biggest sporting event in the US. But don’t worry if the game itself leaves you cold, we’ve picked the top players and stories on and off the field
  • @susborne

Introducing Jacoby Jones

So often a sideshow amid the razzmataz, ads and half-time perfomances, sport did pretty well, providing by many accounts the most thrilling match in Superbowl history. One record was fixed: a  108-yard kick-off return for a touchdown by a man called Jacoby Jones (above). Translated, that means the Baltimore Ravens wide receiver ran the length of the pitch like Usain Bolt with a Star Trek forcefield. The 28-year-old, playing in his home city, added a second touchdown to help his team to victory.

Nicely timed, Beyoncé

What better time to announce a world tour than immediately after wowing 100 million sport fans around the globe? After Beyoncé’s triumphant Super Bowl half-time show, which included the long-awaited return of Destiny’s Child, dates for the 46 day tour, which kicks off in April, were revealed. O2 also released a rather fabulous ad, depicting Queen Bey holding court in an opulent Marie Antoinette-esque setting; except this scene included trippy DJs, gold fingernails and much shorter hemlines. Calling her tour “The Mrs Carter Show” has, however, riled some of her female fans who are none too happy that the self-confessed independent woman is using her husband’s name for professional purposes.

Lights, camera, power cut

Had Beyoncé blown the lights with her electrifying half-time performance? Was Bane about to appear in his John Motson/Ikea monkey coat and make mumbled threats about a neutron bomb? For 35 minutes audiences were in the dark about the cause of a sudden powercut affecting more than half of the Superdome’s lights on the richest night in US sport. As speculation and bad jokes circulated, confused players formed huddles and the city energy supplier claimed no responsibility. The cut was blamed yesterday on a rather sensitive circuit breaker but, happily, a Beyoncé-related power surge  could not be ruled out.

Super (Bowl) sibling rivalry

As any teenage fule knows, the immediate reaction to the success of a sibling is to immediately try to trump it at the dinner table the next day. When the Harbaugh family next gets back together for dinner you’d imagine that Jim (49ers’ coach) will be finding some  triumph to outdo older brother John’s: “Dad, I caught a 18lb  spotted seaperch near the Bay  last week. And John spilt coffee  on the rug in the front room.”

John: “I won the Super  Bowl, Mom.”

John told the press after the game that commiserating with his brother at the end of the game was “probably the most difficult thing I’ve ever done, ever been associated with in my life.” It won’t be as hard as the stare he gets when he tells everyone about the facilities on the open-top bus for the third time at Thanksgiving…

Ali in the audience The Louisville Lip may be from Kentucky, but during Sunday’s Super Bowl, Muhammad Ali was showing his support for the Baltimore Ravens. We know this because the former boxer’s daughter Laila posted a picture of her dad enjoying the game in a Ray Lewis 52 T-shirt (he follows the Ravens having met the team last year). The Ravens’ signature “What’s my name?” call, too, comes from Ali shouting the same thing at Ernie Terrell in a 1967 fight (Terrell had made a point of calling Ali, “Clay”) Laila was moved to show her dad enjoying himself after Ali’s brother Rahman  – who hadn’t seen Muhammad since last summer – claimed he was close to death in an interview with The Sun. A rumour that Ali Jr had indeed exaggerated.

Puppy Bowl:  it’s barking

What did ITV show while the Olympics Opening Ceremony was on BBC1? Well, quite. The Super Bowl demands such a huge US audience (a 111m average in 2012) that other broadcasters might as well not bother.

Nature channel Animal Planet took a counter intuitive approach – merging their competition with their own niche to create… Puppy Bowl. Or, to give it its proper name Puppy Bowl IX. Puppy Bowl featured, simply a few kennels’ worth of ultra-cute puppies, hedgehog cheerleaders, hamsters in the TV blimp, a bird commentator (tweeting throughout @MeeptheBird) and a half-time show by a group of kittens (the twain didn’t meet in the tunnel, thankfully).

The pups did battle over a blue toy instead of a ball and the game was won with an MVP performance from Marta, an adopted Schnauzer/Beagle. She put even Baltimore quarterback Joe Sacco to shame with a gutsy performance against dogs twice her size.

Odd ads R us

 The ads during the Super Bowl are often as closely scrutinised as its scrimmages. And one that got plenty of attention on Sunday started off by addressing itself to “the curious, the inquisitive, the seekers of knowledge”. This was followed by a lot of rather beautiful people pouting to the camera. Was it for jeans? A new soft drink? “To the rebels, the artists, the free-thinkers and the innovators, who care less about labels and more about truth,” the voiceover went on. Wow, sounds cool! Tell me, what is this wonder product being advertised, that has all these catalogue models  so beguiled? Oh, Scientology.  Never mind.