Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco threw for three touchdowns, including a 56-yard pass for New Orleans native Jacoby Jones, as the Ravens established a 28-6 lead - before a power outage caused a break in play during the third quarter.
Players and spectators had been left in the dark as a power failure early in the second half forced organizers to halt the game for 35 minutes before the power could be restored.
And afterwards the 49ers were transformed with Colin Kaepernick, the San Francisco quarterback who had suffered a difficult start to the game, leading the fightback by passing for a TD and running for another in a 23-3 run which put the 49ers tantalisingly close.
But no team in Super Bowl history had ever come back from more than 10 points down to win, though, and that record remained as the Ravens defence stood firm.
Flacco, who threw for 287 yards in total and was voted MVP, got the ball rolling on Baltimore's first possession, nailing a 13-yard pass on the third and four for wide receiver Anquan Boldin to make a routine catch.
David Akers pulled three points back with a field goal, but it could have been better for the 49ers as Kaepernick's throw to Michael Crabtree for what should have been a touchdown was too high.
Flacco made them pay early in the second as he picked out Dennis Pitta with a one-yard TD pass, while his opposite number struggled - Kaepernick threw the first ever interception by a 49ers quarterback at a Super Bowl into the hands of Ed Reed.
Just seconds after the half-time break, Jones caught the ball at the back of San Francisco's end zone and ran the length of the field for his second touchdown and a 28-6 lead.
The run was initially measured at 109 yards, which would have been the longest kick return in NFL history, but was later scaled down to 108 yards by the NFL, tying the record mark.
That all changed moments after Jones' second score, as the Superdome was plunged into darkness.
First Crabtree, who had fumbled his reception moments earlier, received a 31-yard pass from Kaepernick for the 49ers' first touchdown.Then Frank Gore made the most of Delanie Walker's heroic block to score on a six-yard run.
And another field goal from Akers - completed at the second attempt after he was fouled first time around - ensured they were within a touchdown of their opponents heading into the final quarter.
That made it 17 unanswered points for the 49ers since the outage, but Justin Tucker stopped the rot as he opened the fourth with a field goal.
Kaepernick then took the Ravens defence by surprise as he ran for a 15-yard TD, putting the 49ers within two as their attempt at the two-point conversion was unsuccessful.
Trailing 34-29, the 49ers marched down to the Ravens' seven but failed to score on four tries, surrendering the ball on downs at the five with less than two minutes remaining.
But the Ravens defence held firm, conceding two points late on via a safety as they ran down the clock, and Baltimore claimed Vince Lombardi Trophy.
"We don't make it easy," Flacco admitted afterwards.
"But that's the way the city of Baltimore is, that's the way we are. We did this for them back home."
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