The Harbaugh brothers will set the scene as the first coaching brothers to meet in a Super Bowl. It only took until the one minute mark left for CBS’s Jim Nantz to proclaim the game the “Battle of the Harbaugh’s”. It didn’t take the Niners coach Jim Harbaugh that long. Harbaugh expressed his wishes that the Baltimore Ravens do as well, including a hearty, “Go Ravens!” in his press conference following the 49ers’ win.
For each Harbaugh it is their first trip to the big show, but it might be overshadowed by the final game for Baltimore linebacker Ray Lewis. Lewis’s retirement announcement before the playoffs began seemed to spur the Ravens to their second Super Bowl appearance since moving from Cleveland.
Lewis’s announcement stunned not only the football world, but his teammates as well. They never saw it coming. Certainly Lewis suffered through a torn bicep muscle in week three and worked his way back into the lineup by week 16. That wasn’t easy. However Lewis never uttered a thought about retirement.
Lewis has been the heart and soul of this Ravens team since he came into the league. He led one of the greatest defensive units ever in 2000 and has celebrated every game with an emotional speech to his team and a dance during introductions. The emotional lift he will give the Ravens in this final contest will be monumental. Nobody in the Baltimore area wants to see Lewis go out without the trophy.
Both Harbaugh brothers made coaching decisions during the season that led their teams to a spot in New Orleans. Jim made the decision in week 11 after starting quarterback Alex Smith was suffering from a concussion to start Colin Kaepernick. Kaepernick gave the Niners another dimension on offense and made them tougher to defend.
That led to the Green Bay playoff game when Kaepernick rushed for a quarterback record 181 yards and threw for 263 yards in the Niners win over the Packers. Then came Atlanta.
For the second strait week, the Falcons jumped out to a big lead. Yet this time they were unable to hold on in front of the home town fans. Atlanta led early in the second quarter 17-0. The Niners then pulled within three by halftime. The 49ers’ defense did its part, shutting out Atlanta in the second half and making a big stop in the final two minutes for a 28-24 win.
Meanwhile in Baltimore, brother John saw his offense wasn’t making plays. So with two weeks to go in the regular season, after a loss to the Washington Redskins 31-28, John pulled the trigger on offensive coordinator Cam Cameron. The timing, along with the change, was questionable. However the results appear to have worked as the Ravens will aim for their second Super Bowl trophy.
Brian Billick led Baltimore to a win in Super Bowl XXXV in 2000 over the New York Giants. It was the lone Super Bowl title for Art Modell. Now the team the Modell’s no longer own, yet the team still dons the name “Art” on their uniforms, will go for another in honor of their deceased former owner.
New England simply fell apart in the second half of their AFC title tilt. The Baltimore defense, after surviving the Patriots fast paced offensive attack in the first half, dominated the final 30 minutes as Tom Brady threw three interceptions.
Joe Montana won 4 Super Bowls, while Steve Young won another. Colin Kaepernick will now go for his first as San Francisco will also attempt to become the second team in history to win six Vince Lombardi Trophies. The Niners are also the only team with more than one appearance to have an unbeaten record in the Super Bowl.
Immediately after the Ravens game with New England ended, Las Vegas made the San Francisco 49ers five-point favorites over the Baltimore. The early over/under is 50. That line is sure to move up and down in the next two weeks.
The season is coming to an end with plenty of sub-plots. Don’t be surprised if CBS adds Indiana to the schedule and the Harbaugh’s brother in law Tom Crean to the schedule.
Just to make it a family affair.
Dave Mitchell co-hosts with Mark Donahue the UST talk show “Ohio Baseball Weekly,” highlighting the Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds. The Show will return in March, 2013.