Brothers John and Jim Harbaugh met in Super Bowl XLVII, with older brother John and the Baltimore Ravens beating little bro Jim and the San Francisco 49ers 34-31 for the franchise’s second championship. Baltimore was in command early on but lost some momentum (and nearly lost the game) after a 34-minute blackout inside the Superdome — a power outage some Ravens players still believe was no accident.
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Boston finds healing through sports
Two explosions near the finish line of the Boston Marathon killed three and injured hundreds more in April. But the heinous attack did little to dampen Boston's spirit, as it rallied around the success of its sports teams — a Bruins Stanley Cup Finals appearance, a Celtics Eastern Conference Finals appearance and the Red Sox's World Series win — and "Boston Strong" emerged as the city's rallying cry during it's ongoing recovery from the attack. The support traveled far outside Boston too. In the picture above, fans at a San Jose Earthquakes MLS game display a Boston Strong banner.
USA TODAY SportsKyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Mickelson wins his first British title
Phil Mickelson earned the fifth major championship of his career in 2013, shooting a beautiful round of 66 in the final round of the Open Championship at a Muirfield course that tamed the rest of the world's best golfers all weekend long. The win gave Lefty his first Claret Jug, leaving the US Open — at which he finished second in 2013 — the only unchecked box in his career grand slam.
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Jason Collins comes out
NBA big man Jason Collins made history in April when he became the first active player in a major American sport to reveal that he is gay. Collins' coming out was met with widespread approval but also concern that it could impact the free agent's ability to find employment going forward. And though Collins has worked out for several teams since his announcement, the veteran journeyman has yet to land on an NBA roster.
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Louisville hoops wins March
Louisville's men's and women's basketball teams made headlines during their respective NCAA tournaments this year, with the men overcoming Kevin Ware's gruesome on-court injury to win the program's first national championship since 1986. On the women's side, the fifth-seeded Lady Cards lost in the championship game to UConn, but stunned the basketball world with a victory over tournament favorite and defending champ Baylor in the second round.
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Auburn's back-to-back miracle finishes
We'll have to wait until 2014 to see if Auburn can extend the SEC's 7-year streak of BCS titles to eight, but the fact that the Tigers are in the championship game at all is something of a miracle. It started against Georgia, when Auburn beat the Bulldogs the most improbable game-winning touchdown you'll ever see — that was, until the Iron Bowl, when the Tigers stunned top-ranked two-time defending champ Alabama in a finish that may go down as one of the best ever.
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Bruins' wild Game 7 comeback
The Boston Bruins fell short of a championship in 2013, losing to the Chicago Blackhawks in six games in the Stanley Cup Finals, but the Bruins' shocking elimination of the Toronto Maple Leafs in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals was the defining moment of the playoffs. Boston erased a three-goal Leafs lead in the third period of Game 7, using two goals in the final 82 seconds to send the game to overtime. 6:05 into the extra period, Patrice Bergeron scored to send the Bruins to the second round.
NHLI via Getty ImagesSteve Babineau
Red Sox win the World Series
After a last-place finish in 2012, the Boston Red Sox entered 2013 carrying little in the way of expectations, but the BoSox rebounded from their worst finish since 1965 with 97-win regular season and a six-game World Series win over the St. Louis Cardinals — the franchise's first championship since 2007 and third in 10 seasons. There were several contributing factors in Boston's epic turnaround, but none more important than the disgusting beard growth that sparked the Sox to a series title.
Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY SportsBob DeChiara
Amazing rally helps Heat win back-to-back titles
LeBron James and the Miami Heat moved one step closer to keeping their promise of "not five, not six, not seven" championships in 2013, winning their second in as many years in a seven-game battle with the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Finals. During the regular season, the Heat rattled off a 27-game win streak, but it would have all been for naught had it not been for Ray Allen's miracle 3-pointer late in Game 6 against the Spurs.
NBAE/Getty ImagesGarrett Ellwood
Jimmie Johnson makes it six career titles
Jimmie Johnson rode the No. 48 car back to the top of the Sprint Cup standings for the first time since 2010 this year, winning a sixth career Cup championship and moving one step closer to tying Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt for the all-time record. Along the way, Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus compiled 24 top-10 finishes in 36 races, including six wins.
NASCAR via Getty ImagesJeff Zelevansky
Andy Murray finally wins Wimbledon
Andy Murray's tearful address to the crowd after his runner-up Wimbledon finish in 2012 made for one of the most heartbreaking scenes in recent sports history, but in 2013, Murray returned to the All England Club and beat top-seeded Novak Djokovic in straight sets in the final to become the first British player to win the men's singles tournament since Fred Perry in 1936.
AFP/Getty ImagesADRIAN DENNIS
Peyton Manning returns to Indy
After an emotional departure from Indianapolis in 2012, where he spent the first 14 seasons of his career, Manning returned for the first time as a member of another team Oct. 20 when the Denver Broncos rolled in. Manning's new squad was 6-0 when the game began and gave the crowd what they wanted -- a glimpse at Peyton ... and a Colts victory.
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UFC's best fight ever?
Jon "Bones" Jones is the most household of all the UFC names, and its best pound-for-pound fighter. That's why he was a big favorite over Alexander Gustafsson when the two squared off Sept. 21 for the UFC light heavyweight championship. But Gustafsson was equal to the task, going five bruising rounds with Jones before ultimately losing in a unanimous decision that immediately had fans wanting a rematch.
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'Bama makes it three out of four
Nick Saban's Crimson Tide was supposed to to cruise to a third BCS title in four years when it faced Notre Dame on Jan. 7 in Miami. And they did just that, dominating every facet of the game against Manti Te'o and company in a 42-14 win.
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Serena continues to solidify legacy
Another year, more of Serena looking untouchable. Just a couple weeks from turning 32, Williams topped Victoria Azarenka in three sets in the US Open final on Sept. 8, winning the tournament for the fifth time in her career and picking her astonishing 17th Grand Slam title. Only five players stand ahead of her on the all-time list, and she could finish 2014 as high as third.