It's usually pop stars who get the honor of performing the national anthem at the Super Bowl.

For this year's big game, held Sunday at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., the National Football League handed the anthem off to an opera diva -- and the result was dramatically different from what's we've seen from recent Super Bowl singers.

Renee Fleming, the Grammy-winning soprano known for singing at President Obama's inauguration as well as for many other milestone achievements, absolutely scored a touchdown with her stunning, high-flying rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner."

Opera singer Renée Fleming sings the national anthem before the NFL Super Bowl XLVIII football game between the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos
Opera singer Renée Fleming sings the national anthem before the NFL Super Bowl XLVIII football game between the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum) ( Matt Slocum )

Her version was careful, deliberate and much slower than we've grown accustomed to hearing. She didn't rush a single syllable, carefully enunciating each word like it was the most important one in the song. But she certainly sent the song sailing on a few occasions, delivering a couple of notes toward the end of the song that are probably still ringing around MetLife.

Queen Latifah performed before Fleming, handling "America the Beautiful." It was a very sweet, friendly rendition, delivering more charm than vocal fireworks. It worked well as a companion piece for Fleming's anthem.

Also, it's interesting to note that the performance of "America the Beautiful" lead directly into a commercial for the new "Captain America" movie. That was sure convenient.

Follow Jim Harrington at http://twitter.com/jimthecritic.