USS PELELIU, At Sea - Sailors and Marines aboard amphibious assault ship USS Peleliu (LHA 5) celebrated Super Bowl XLVII, a match up between the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens, Feb. 4.
The crowd gathered at 2 a.m. in the hangar bay for the pre-game to eat pizza and hot wings served by the Second Class Association. Ship's band "All Hands Field Day" provided live music.
"I think they loved it. There was intense energy, and everyone was excited to have that big piece of American culture broadcast live on board," said Information Systems Technician 1st Class Amy Tucker, the ship's Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) committee co-chairman. "It was my fourth Super Bowl underway and it was the best one I've had."
Much like the fans that packed the Mercedes-Benz Super Dome in New Orleans, the crew packed Peleliu's hangar bay, equally divided in their support for the opposing teams. Loud cheers tossed back and forth from the crew during the game.
The Ravens dominated the first half of the game, ending the first half with a 21-6 lead. The Ravens then opened the 3rd quarter with a post-season record 108-yard kickoff return by Jacoby Jones for a touchdown. It seemed like the game was going to be a blow out.
"It felt great. It seemed like the 49ers didn't have a chance," said Sgt. Steven McNeely, a Virginia native and a Ravens fan.
But then the lights went out in the stadium. An electrical malfunction darkened the lights and scoreboards. After a 34-minute game delay, power was restored both in the stadium and within the 49er players. The 49ers made a comeback scoring 17 unanswered points to get the score within five points, 28-23, silencing the Ravens fans.
"After the first half I was questioning why I woke up to watch the game, especially after the long kickoff return to open the third quarter," said Ensign Steve Link, assigned to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 23 and lifelong 49ers fan. "I was completely shocked they were able to come back, especially with a young quarterback and after essentially not showing up for the first half. I definitely thought they had a chance to win after that comeback."
The Ravens' defense finished strong by stopping the 49ers on four straight plays inside the 49ers' seven-yard line.
"We were five yards away from scoring the touchdown to take the lead before the two minute warning," said Fireman Edwin Prieto, a 49ers fan. "When the pass was overthrown to Michael Crabtree, my heart was just broken."
Led by the retiring 17-year veteran Ray Lewis, the Ravens never relinquished the lead and guided them to their second Super Bowl championship in 12 years.
"I'm happy for [Ray Lewis]. It's good to see him go out with a ring. It's time for him to retire though," said McNeely.
For many on the ship, the Super Bowl is a competition for bragging rights on whose team is better. This year the glory belongs to Ravens fans.
"I'm from the East Coast. Baltimore is my team. Whether we win or lose, I'm going to talk," added McNeely.
Although hit with a loss, 49ers' fans remain optimistic about their teams' future.
"Last year we made it to the NFC Championship. This year the Super Bowl," said Prieto. "We have a pretty young team, so I think we will be back again next year."
Many committees contributed and collaborated to support this event.
"[It] showed an awesome demonstration of teamwork, said Tucker.
Peleliu is the flagship for the Peleliu Amphibious Ready Group and, with the embarked 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, is deployed in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet Area of Responsibility.