Super Bowl 47 is now 11 days and will feature the first matchup of coaching brothers in the postseason of any sport.
Super Bowl 47 is now 11 days away and it will feature the San Francisco 49ers vs the Baltimore Ravens. It will also feature the first ever matchup of coaching brothers in Super Bowl history as San Francisco is headed by former Michigan All American and NFL QB Jim Harbaugh, while Baltimore is coached by older brother John Harbaugh.
The NFC conference finals last Sunday pitted Jim Harbaugh's Niners on the road against the top seeded Falcons who were coming off a narrow division final win over the Seahawks the previous Sunday. In the divisional game, the Falcons coughed up a 20-0 halftime advantage but they were able to eke out a 30-28 win on a clutch 49 yard field goal by kicker Matt Bryant with 8 seconds remaining. This weekend against San Francisco, the Falcons started in similar fashion, jumping out to a 17-0 lead to start the game, but then let the Niners come roaring back. Up 24 to 14 at the half, Atlanta was shut out in the second half, and two rushing touchdowns by 49ers running back Frank Gore, one in each of the final 2 quarters, gave San Francisco the final 28-24 victory and a trip to New Orleans on February 3rd.
John Harbaugh's Raven squad traveled to New England for the seemingly impossible task of taking on Tom Brady and the evil Patriots in Foxboro. To the surprise of many, the Ravens thrashed the Patriots 28-13 to win the AFC championship. The Patriots took a 13-7 lead into halftime; seemingly bad news for the Baltimore as Brady is, or I should say was, undefeated with a halftime lead at home. Flacco and the Ravens came out in the second half and scored 21 unanswered points to upset the second seeded Patriots. Flacco passed for all 3 second half touchdowns, 1 to Dennis Pitta and 2 to Anquan Boldin. Flacco, who received flack at the beginning of the season for calling himself “elite”, has thrown 8 touchdowns and no interceptions in his 3 post season starts and he’ll be facing 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick in the Super Bowl, who was the backup to Alex Smith and took over in week 11 after a Smith concussion. Smith has been healthy for a while now but is the back up as Kaepernick has grabbed a hold of the job. Kaepernick has gone 7-2 with 10 touchdowns passes, 7 rushing TDs and 4 interceptions since taking over. The last backup QB to lead his team to the Superbowl was Trent Dilfer who led the Ravens in their last Super victory in 2000 over the New York Giants.
This Super Bowl marks the first time that brothers face off as head coaches in the postseason of any sport. John and Jim Harbaugh are only 15 months apart and shared a room as children, and now face what is hopefully the largest episode of sibling rivalry they will ever encounter. The brothers are asking the media to focus on the players and teams and not on the historical sibling matchup though, and elder brother and Ravens Coach John said, “We get it. It’s really cool, and it’s really exciting and all of that. It’s really about the team. It’s about the players. The more we focus on those guys, the better it is for everybody.”
Honoring his request, I’ll turn to Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis who extended his NFL career as long as possible, as he announced his retirement earlier this year. The 37 year old missed most of the 2012 season after a triceps tear, and after the super bowl will end the 17 year career which he spent entirely with the Ravens. Interestingly, the first of his 41.5 pro sacks was on none other than Jim Harbaugh in 1996. The 2 actually played for the Ravens together a few years later. Jim and the 49ers are currently a 4 point favorite in what is expected to be a close game. The Ravens have relished the underdog role this post season, pulling off impressive road wins against heavy favorites in the broncos and the patriots. Plus, Flacco has been excellent thus far in the post season with his 8 touchdowns, no picks and has averaged over 280 passing yards per game. Bettors take note, no QB who has thrown at least 8 TDs with zero interceptions has ever lost a Super Bowl. Joe Montana, Steve Young, Drew Brees, Troy Aikman and Phil Simms are the names on that list. Will Flacco's name be added to it on February 3rd in New Orleans?
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