Super Bowl gears up for extraordinary sibling rivalry
The San Francisco 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens won their National Football League championships in stunning fashion on Sunday night to set up an extraordinary sibling rivalry in next month’s 47th Super Bowl.
The 49ers, coached by Jim Harbaugh, overturned a 17-point deficit to beat the Atlanta Falcons 28-24 in the NFC decider before the Ravens, under the guidance of Jim’s older brother John, stunned the highly-fancied New England Patriots 28-13 in the AFC title game.
Sibling rivalries are not uncommon in sport, most notably with the Williams sisters in tennis, but it will be the first time that head coaches from the same family square off for the greatest prize in American professional sports. “I don’t know if we had a dream this big,” John Harbaugh said.
With a bit more luck, the pair might have met in the Super Bowl last year but both came up short with the 49ers losing the NFC championship in overtime to the New York Giants and the Ravens losing by three points to the Patriots in the AFC.
This time, both teams ended up on the winning end of the scoreboard to book their places at the Superdome in New Orleans on February 3rd.
The 49ers, one of American football’s most successful franchises, will be making their first appearance in the Super Bowl for 18 years.
They have never lost an NFL title game and if they maintain their perfect record they will tie the Pittsburgh Steelers’ record of six titles.
Their chances of just getting to the Super Bowl looked doomed after they fell 17-0 down in the early second quarter. However, with second-year quarterback Colin Kaepernick calling the shots, they rallied back with two touchdowns, briefly cutting the margin to three points before Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan connected with retiring tight end Tony Gonzalez to give the Falcons a 10-point advantage at half-time.
But the Falcons failed to score a single point in the second half while San Francisco running back Frank Gore scored two unanswered touchdowns to secure his team’s victory.
Baltimore, riding high on a wave of emotion from their veteran linebacker Ray Lewis, outscored the Pats 21-0 in a lopsided second half to reach the Super Bowl for just the second time. Given little hope of beating a New England team led by Tom Brady, they avenged their loss to the Pats in the corresponding game last year after an irresistible display by underrated quarterback Joe Flacco.
“I said to our players last year, don’t put your heads down, we’ll be back,” said Lewis, who is retiring after the Super Bowl.
“To see us come back like this, after all the injuries and things we have been through . . . our team is just awesome and this is our time.”