Ravens-49ers: Which brother wins?
The San Francisco 49ers never have tasted defeat in a Super
Bowl, going 5-0. It’s the most impressive mark for any franchise in
the big game.
Baltimore also is undefeated, with the Ravens winning their only
appearance, in 2001.
Someone will have the Super Bowl blahs for the first time after
Sunday’s title game in the Superdome.
The Ravens (13-6), who are 3 1/2 -point underdogs, are on one of
those runs reminiscent of recent NFL champions. Indeed, the New
York Giants reached the Super Bowl a year ago in a similar manner,
winning a wild-card game at home, then two playoffs on the road,
including an overtime thriller.
The Giants got healthy down the stretch, something the Ravens
have replicated, particularly on defense where star linebackers Ray
Lewis and Terrell Suggs are giving vintage performances following
”I believe we have found a way to believe in each other, and
nothing else matters,” said Lewis, who will retire after the game.
”That is one thing about our sideline. When we are on our
sideline, there is only one thing that matters, when this game
ends, we will be victorious, and everybody believes the same thing.
That’s what’s been our road, no matter who’s been up, who’s been
down, who’s been hurt, who’s been injured. We found a way to pick
each other up.”
Baltimore’s path to New Orleans led through New England, where
the Ravens fell to the Patriots in last year’s AFC title game. But
they outscored the Patriots 21-0 in the second half to earn their
spot in the Super Bowl.
San Francisco (13-4-1) also came up one win short a year ago,
losing to the Giants for the NFC championship. That defeat has
driven the 49ers just as much as the Ravens’ failure in 2011 lifted
These Niners are built around a physical, stingy defense – that
also has been the Ravens’ persona for years, although not as much
in 2012 as in Lewis’ other 17 pro seasons. Linebacker Patrick
Willis, who like Lewis wears No. 52 and is a perennial All-Pro, is
”As a kid, you grew up watching,” Willis said. ”Just to have
the opportunity to be able to play in this game given my first four
years (out of the playoffs), we were at home at this time watching
other teams play. Last year we were one game away. To be able to be
here, is truly special.”
To make it extra special, San Francisco’s offense will need to
outdo Baltimore’s. The Ravens have scored 90 points in three games,
and the Niners have 73 in two.
Baltimore’s defense has made big plays against Andrew Luck,
Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. Now it gets an entirely different
type of quarterback, Colin Kaepernick. His combination of running
skill, powerful arm and surprising cool for a second-year pro makes
him particularly dangerous against the Ravens. Baltimore does not
have the fastest defense in the league.
Then again, the 49ers must deal with Joe Flacco, the only QB to
win a postseason game in each of his first five seasons. Flacco
also has six road playoff victories, a league record.
He’s also outplayed Brady, the most successful quarterback of
the last dozen seasons, in two straight AFC title games.
But he has his critics because this is his first Super Bowl trip
in five tries.
”I think there is definitely a part of all of us that hear
things and when somebody doubts what you want to do, you definitely
go show them that they may be wrong,” he said. ”I think for the
most part we play for each other and that stuff is kind of a
While the Ravens and 49ers play for each other, the Harbaugh
brothers, John of the Ravens and Jim of the 49ers, will go against
each other in the first Super Bowl featuring sibling head coaches.
They’ve had fun with the topic this week, but it will be as serious
as football can get on Sunday.
With older brother John coming out on top.
Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and