Behind the scenes in the NFL control room during Super Bowl blackout

Frank Supovitz, NFL senior vice president, points to the field in the Super Dome from the NFL control room as soon as the lights went off during the Super Bowl on February 3, 2013. CBS News

(CBS News) NEW YORK - At its peak last night, the audience of last night Super Bowl reached 164 million. But one thing those viewers didn't bet on was the lights going out in the Superdome.

It happened in the second half and left the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens waiting the twilight.

(Watch: Cameras capture the scene inside the Superdome's control room during the stadium's power outage.)

The root cause of the 34 minutes of darkness remains under investigation, although on Monday, Superdome executive Doug Thornton shed some light on the blackout. He said it was tied to a sudden shutdown of one of the main electrical lines powering the Dome.

"All we know is we had an interruption in service," Thornton said.

Thornton said power from the electrical company, Entergy, was being fed into a substation, which split the electrical feed into two main lines running power to the stadium. It was the main "A" line that went dark without warning.

"It sensed abnormalities in their substation and it shut the power to the Superdome," Thornton said.

Corey Graham #24, Ray Lewis #52 and Paul Kruger #99 of the Baltimore Ravens walk towards the sideline as play was suspended in the third quarter for 34 minutes due to a power outage.
Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

"Frank, we lost the A-Feed," one man replied.

It happened some 90 seconds into the third quarter, and we were in the NFL command center interviewing for "60 Minutes Sports," Frank Supovitz, the man in charge of Super Bowl game day operations.

As soon as it went dark, Supovitz calmly announced, "Alright, we lost lights."

The moment it happened, a sense of uncertainty filled the room.

"What does that mean?" Supovitz asked.

"That means we have to do the bus tie."

"What does that mean?"

"That means about a 20-minute delay."

The power outage played havoc with the CBS broadcast. Play by play announcer Jim Nantz's microphone was dead, as was that of analyst Phil Simms.

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It was left to sideline reporters Solomon Wilcotts and Steve Tasker to tell millions of viewers what was happening inside the half-lit stadium.

"There's no danger, no one injured of any kind. But obvious, The players are milling around, and we got a lot of officials running around, wanting to get this game back on," Wilcotts said.

On Monday, both Thornton and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell put one rumor to rest.

The power outage was not caused by Beyonce's super-techno halftime show, a show that had been powered by a separate set of generators.

Beyonce performs during the Pepsi Super Bowl XLVII Halftime Show.
Getty Images/Chris Graythen

"There's no indication at all that this was caused by the half time show," Goodell said. "Absolutely none."

Superdome officials said they have spent millions of dollars upgrading their electrical systems since Hurricane Katrina.

On a picture-perfect day, New Orleans had rolled out the party mat. Goodell indicated the incident would not affect attempts by the city to host a future Super Bowl.

"This is clearly something that can be fixed," he said. "It's is clearly something that we can prepare for in the future. And we will."

The next Super Bowl will be played in the New York are at Met Life Stadium. An N.F.L. official said the league will now take a closer look at that stadium's power supply and it's backup plans."

For more details, watch Armen Keteyian's full story on "60 Minutes Sports" this Wednesday at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT on Showtime.

  • Armen Keteyian

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