|Brother vs. brother: John Harbaugh's Ravens beat Pats for Super Bowl date vs. Jim Harbaugh's 49ers|
January 21, 2013
If I have to pick a team (not that I care none of my teams are in this) it would have to be The Baltimore Ravens.
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – John and Jim Harbaugh grew up around coaching. Playing. Watching. Coaching, moving around America every few years as their father, Jack, picked up assistant coaching jobs. They learned to splice film early. Knew the importance of game plans and motivation. And, like so many sons and daughters, decided eventually to get into the family business.
Now here comes the first brother vs. brother coaching matchup in Super Bowl history.
John's Baltimore Ravens dismantled New England 28-13 here Sunday night. Just hours earlier, Jim's San Francisco 49ers outlasted Atlanta 28-24. Their two teams will meet Feb. 3 in New Orleans for the NFL championship.
It will be the pinnacle for America's first coaching family. John is 15 months the elder and is a coaching lifer. Jim enjoyed a 15-year NFL career as a quarterback before becoming a head coach in the college ranks at the University of San Diego and Stanford.
"[I'm] overcome with extreme pride for both of them," younger sister Joani Crean told Yahoo! Sports. "[I] can't describe my feelings beyond that. I have two incredible brothers."
About the only downside for parents Jack and Jackie: one of their sons has to lose.
For at least one Raven, it was about vengeance. After the game linebacker Terrell Suggs pointed to the motivation of defeating the hated Patriots, who had won last year's AFC title game over Baltimore.
"Tell them to have fun at the Pro Bowl," Suggs said. "Shut them out in the second half. Arrogant [expletive]. These are the most arrogant pricks in the world starting with [coach Bill] Belichick on down."
Sunday was the ultimate for two coaches to reach the Super Bowl, two hard-fought road wins that required second-half comebacks, each shutting out the home team in the final two quarters.
Here in New England, the Ravens' defense helped force Tom Brady (29-for-54 for 320 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions) into a poor, by his standards, effort. The Pats watched drive after drive stall just outside field-goal range as Belichick went uncharacteristically conservative on fourth down.
It means that the emotional final playoff run of legendary linebacker Ray Lewis will continue as he returns to the Super Bowl for the first time since 2000, when he was the game's MVP. It is also the first appearance of fellow future Hall of Famer Ed Reed, the team's ball-hawk safety.
It was a defensive performance that will be hailed for decades in Maryland. Baltimore was able to mostly contain New England's offense, clearly missing injured tight end Rob Gronkowski, to short-yard plays. The Patriots showed little explosion.
Meanwhile, oft-questioned quarterback Joe Flacco continued a strong playoff run by heating up and shredding the Patriots' secondary that was rattled by the early loss of shutdown cornerback Aqib Talib to a thigh injury. Flacco defeated not just Brady but Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck this postseason.
Flacco finished the game hitting 21 of 36 passes for 240 yards and three touchdowns. He was particularly strong in the second half, leading three touchdown drives to overcome a 13-7 halftime deficit.
As for the hoopla over two brothers facing each other for the Super Bowl, John Harbaugh already wants no part of the storyline.
"Let's cut that out right now," Harbaugh said in the postgame media conference. "We did that last year. It got old last year, did it not?"