Ravens cap off surprising runFOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Oh, brother!
By: Associated Press, The Jamestown Sun
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — 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 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.”
The Ravens have gotten there the hard way, with no postseason bye. Then again, five of the last seven Super Bowl champions took that route.
The Ravens also were pushed into a second overtime in frigid Denver last weekend before eliminating Peyton Manning and the top-seeded Broncos.
And now they’ve cast aside the league’s most successful franchise of the last dozen years.
New England (13-5), which hasn’t won a Super Bowl since the 2004 season, had four injuries, the scariest when running back Stevan Ridley was knocked flat by Bernard Pollard in the fourth quarter, forcing a fumble. Baltimore turned that into the final touchdown, on the only short scoring drive it had, 47 yards.
The Ravens gained just 130 yards in the first half.
Brady guided a 13-play drive to Stephen Gostkowski’s 31-yard field goal for a 3-0 lead. Neither defense yielded a big play, and punters Zoltan Mesko and Sam Koch were the busiest guys on the field.
That changed when the teams switched sides for the second quarter. Baltimore again was pinned deep, at its 10, but Flacco led a 13-play drive.
Ray Rice, whose 83-yard run on the Ravens’ first play from scrimmage in their wild-card round victory here three years ago, ran left untouched for the TD.
Awakened by Baltimore’s march, the Patriots staged a long one of their own, 79 yards, aided by a 15-yard personal foul by Ravens linebacker Dannell Ellerbe..
Vegas bookies favor 49ers by 4.5 points
LAS VEGAS — If the Baltimore Ravens are to become Super Bowl champions, they’ll have to beat the odds again to do it.
Bookmakers in this gambling city mostly have the San Francisco 49ers 4.5-point favorites over the Ravens in the Super Bowl, amid expectations this could be the heaviest bet title game ever.
“It’s a monster matchup, brother versus brother,” William Hill oddsmaker Jimmy Vaccaro said. “I believe it will top last year’s Super Bowl handle and could go higher.”
Some sports books didn’t even wait until the clock ran out in the Ravens win over the New England Patriots to set the line. At the LVH sports book, a line favoring the 49ers by 4.5 points was put up just before the 2-minute warning, and bettors didn’t waste any time to get money down on the game.
“We’ve got money coming in as we speak, it looks like it will be good on both sides,” said LVH book director Jay Kornegay. “These teams mirror each other, but the 49ers are a bit more sexy now than the Ravens.”