The 49ers careened off Bourbon Street on Sunday, took a wrong turn and wound up at Heartbreak Hotel.

The Big Easy came down hard on the boys from the bay.

Ravens 34, 49ers 31.

"It's kind of tough, man, to get this far and let everything slip away," said 49ers linebacker Ahmad Brooks. "Wasn't our day, man."

The 49ers' glorious dream of adding one last frosty can to the plastic ring, giving the 49ers' a golden six-pack of Super Bowl victories in six tries, died with Baltimore's goal-line stand.

Jim Harbaugh screamed for a holding penalty on the 49ers' last-gasp play, and nobody throws a better tantrum, but it was a night when a lot of stuff didn't get called, for both teams.

In the end, in this town, you must accept your fate. Sometimes the voodoo works for you; sometimes it bites you in the butt.

This will be a hard one for the 49ers and their fans to shake off. For the third straight playoff game, the 49ers staged a furious comeback, and it would have been truly epic, but it didn't quite happen.

Now, with humble hearts and king-hell hangovers, the 49ers stagger home without a trophy.

Thrills and agonies

After the game, an army of joyous Joe Flaccos and rowdy Ray Lewises – middle-aged Baltimore fans wearing their heroes' jerseys – descended on the French Quarter with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind.

"I got two tickets to paradise!" Ravens safety Ed Reed warbled into his postgame interview mike. He was no Eddie Money, but Ed was money.

Meanwhile, unhappy Colin Kaepernicks and disgruntled Frank Gores – 49ers faithful in their team gear – slunk off to eat crow, or gobble leftover jive turkey.

For the 49ers, there simply was no overcoming a disastrous first half. Their first half was, in terms of effort and efficiency, FEMA-like. The 49ers were a streetcar named perspire.

They clawed back, as they had in previous playoff games against the Packers (down 7-0) and Falcons (down 17-0). On Sunday, they spotted the Ravens a 28-6 lead early in the second half. Came roaring back. Lost.

How tragic is it?

Something's happening here

Well, we hereby interrupt the weeping and wailing of 49ers faithful, and the profound gloom of the players, with a reminder that this was one sensational season. If anyone feels cheated, they might be missing the point.