Harbaugh matchup set as brothers bound for Super Bowl
Oh, brother! John Harbaugh and his Baltimore Ravens set up a family reunion at the Super Bowl, shutting down the New England Patriots 28-13 Sunday in the AFC championship game. The Ravens reached their first Super Bowl in 12 years, thanks to three touchdown passes from Joe Flacco and a defense led by Ray Lewis that made Tom Brady look downright ordinary. Next up for Harbaugh and the Ravens is baby brother Jim and the San Francisco 49ers, who beat Atlanta 28-24 earlier in the day for the NFC title.They'll meet in two weeks in New Orleans — what a place for a party to celebrate the first brother-vs.-brother coaching matchup in Super Bowl history. It also will be quite a last game for Lewis, the emotional linebacker who will retire after the matchup with the 49ers, who opened as a 5-point favorite. Driven by Lewis' pending departure from the NFL, Baltimore's defense stepped up in the playoffs. Brady was 67-0 at home when leading at halftime, but this was no contest in the second half. It also was a first for the Patriots, who hadn't lost an AFC championship at home. After they had avenged last year's AFC title game loss at Gillette Stadium, many of the Ravens gathered on the field jumping, chest-bumping and whooping before several thousand fans wearing Ravens jerseys — mostly Lewis' No. 52 — who remained in the stands. As in the previous two playoff wins against Indianapolis and Denver, the Ravens (13-6) were brilliant offensively in spots. This might be 17-year-veteran Lewis' team, but it's also Flacco's, and the quarterback's six road wins are the most in playoff history. "It was pretty awesome," Flacco said. "We were here last year and thought we had it, but came up a little short. Guys came out in the second half and made plays. … We put pressure on them like that, and it worked pretty well." Flacco, the only quarterback to win a playoff game in each of his first five seasons, was dynamic with his arm and precise with his decision making. Looking much more the championship passer than Brady did, his throws of 11 and 3 yards to Anquan Boldin and 5 to Dennis Pitta all were perfect. New England (13-5) lost a home AFC title matchup for the first time in five home games. The loss denied Brady and coach Bill Belichick a shot at their sixth Super Bowl. They've gone 3-2, losing their last two times in the big game. Instead, it's the AFC North champion Ravens heading to the Big Easy, seeking their second NFL championship. San Francisco has won five. "This is our time. This is our time," Lewis said as he and a few teammates were receiving the AFC championship trophy. "All these men out there, there might just be only five of us up here, but every man out there sacrificed this year for each other, and man, we did it and we're on our way to the Super Bowl. That's awesome."
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