Photo via Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images
If you hadn’t heard, the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens will meet in Super Bowl XLVII. And if you’ve really been off the grid of late, the game will be marketed as the Brothers’ Super Bowl, the HarBowl, or something else hopefully more creative. John Harbaugh is older than Jim Harbaugh by exactly fifteen months. As a father of two boys who are nearly sixteen months apart, I have a little insight as to what their relationship was like when they were younger, and probably what it’s like today. Beyond their love for one another, more than likely, the biggest part of their relationship has to do with competition.
Little brother watches big brother. While big brother is running around, little brother studies him, anticipating the day when he can join big brother and his friends. Big brother is a mentor and he doesn’t even know it. Big brother teaches little brother every thing he knows. Little brother tries to master what he’s taught, and then remixes it. Big brother thinks little brother is on his team, but really, all little brother wants to do is beat him. Little brother wants the same freedoms, the same rights, but he doesn’t understand that he doesn’t deserve them. And he hates that. It just makes him want to beat big brother even more.
We never had a fight as adults. But we had some knock-down, drag-outs when we were younger. I can remember my mom screaming, ‘You’re brothers!’ ” says John. “There are probably a lot of mothers out there that can relate to that.” They shared a room and lots more. “Sharing ideas, sharing goals, sharing dreams. We’ve been doing it our whole lives,” says Jim.
How big are the smiles on Mom and Pop Harbaugh right now? They raised two sons who will be coaching the biggest game of their lives on television’s biggest stage. Pop Harbaugh, he of a 43-year coaching career himself including nine college stops. Mom Harbaugh, she a rock for her kids, whose competitive nature of her own helped Jim channel his.
How’d we get here?
Win It For Ray
Is Joe Flacco elite? While he may misfire on a short or midrange pass here and there and while he may not always be able to hit the deep ball, Joe Flacco wins football games. And winning makes you elite.
He’s turned into the perfect quarterback for this team – calm, calculated, patient, and when the scoring opportunities are there, he takes advantage of them much like in the second half of their victory in New England on Sunday. He threw three scoring strikes in the second half and Baltimore pulled away from New England after being down 13-7 at halftime.
It’s not always pretty, but the guy has made the playoffs every season he’s been in the NFL. And this postseason, he’s 3-0 with eight touchdown passes, no interceptions, and is averaging over 280-yards passing per game.
Tom Brady was 5-1 before Sunday in AFC Championship games and previously, the Patriots were 4-0 in AFC Championship games at home. But like I mentioned in my preview on Thursday, these teams know each other like they know their own teams. The last three games between them were decided by a total of seven points. While many were predicting the Patriots to win big, I thought the familiarity would keep the game close and that it would be won in the fourth quarter. I decided that home field advantage would give the edge to the Patriots and I had them winning a close one. Welp, I was wrong. The Ravens outscored the Patriots 21-0 in the second half, forcing Tom Brady into two interceptions to secure the victory.
As for Ray Lewis, he had another 14 tackles Sunday which makes 44 in three playoff games after missing ten games to end the regular season because of a triceps tear. If you’re on the Ravens and you see the greatest player in franchise history give his everything for one last run, how can you not try to win it for him?
News of a possible sexual assault charge against Michael Crabtree didn’t slow down the 49ers on Sunday. Neither did the fact that Colin Kaepernick only had 21-yards rushing. After rushing for a staggering 181-yards against Green Bay during the divisional round, the Atlanta Falcons made sure that Kaepernick wasn’t going to repeat his performance. But all it did was open up opportunities for Frank Gore to the tune of 90-yards rushing and two scores. In fact, in all thirteen read-option possibilities, rather than fake the handoff to Gore and take it to the outside, Kaepernick gave the ball to Gore.
Prognosticators were worried that the 49ers showed their hand against Green Bay, unveiling a weapon that they may have needed to save. It was just the opposite. By using it to destroy Green Bay, it made sure that Atlanta had to prepare for it and it allowed the 49ers to do what they do best; bully teams with their imposing offensive line and running Frank Gore through the middle.
But for most of the first half, it sure didn’t look like that was going to happen. For one quarter, the Atlanta Falcons were the single best team the 49ers had faced all year long (yes, including Seattle). Matt Ryan, aka Matty Ice, was better than any quarterback the 49ers had seen, dicing up their defense with the precision of a X-acto knife. Some 49ers fans wanted to blame the defensive backs, the lack of pass rush, or bad preparation, but I’m not sure if it was any of those. The Falcons attacked the 49ers with bunch formations and Ryan was quick and deadly with his reads. They took all of 3:30 in the first quarter to score their first touchdown and by the beginning of the second quarter it was 17-0 and they looked to be off to the races.
I received a tweet from my buddy @dadrrtywhyteboi, which said that I should be worried about my team. But I wasn’t. Even though the Falcons looked like killers, I expected the 49ers to make it a close game. When your offensive and defensive lines are as tough as the 49ers’ are, you start to wear teams out and in the second half and everything that might not’ve been working, starts working. After the 49ers scored twice, the Falcons closed the first half with a late touchdown that bumped their lead to 24-14. And then, much like the Patriots in their game against the Ravens, the Falcons scored zero second half points.
The 49ers scored fourteen unanswered points in the second half and held on to a 28-24 victory. Even a terrible call by the officials that was later confirmed to be terrible by replay and not fixed couldn’t ruin Jim Harbaugh’s day.
Here’s a nice stat for you — after their teams had poor first halves and went into the locker room, both brothers were able to make the necessary adjustments and outscored the opposition 35-0 in the second half.
The next two weeks will probably be insufferable. You won’t be able to escape the Harbaugh madness.
I can hear Mom and Pop Harbaugh saying it right now. “Who’s got it better than us? Noooooooobodyyyyyy!”