Sunday, January 20, 2013
THE "HARBOWL" IS ON
It'll be Harbaugh vs. Harbaugh when Big Bro John's Baltimore Ravens (13-6) play Little Bro Jim's San Francisco 49ers (13-4-1) in the Super Bowl at New Orleans in two weeks.
The 49ers rebounded from a 17-0 deficit to beat Atlanta 28-24, while Joe Flacco threw three touchdown passes in the second half to lead the Ravens over New England 28-13 in Sunday's Conference title games. The 49ers have been listed as early five-point favourites.
As much chatter as there will be about the players involved - from Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis and his impending retirement to 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick's sudden emergence - the sibling angle will make this coaching matchup the most scrutinized in the nearly half-century of Super Sundays.
On Thanksgiving Day, 2011, the Harbaughs became the first brothers to coach against each other in any NFL game. Now they'll be squaring off in the biggest one of all.
The 49ers open as 5-point favourites.
ATLANTA - The clutch quarterback. The genius coach. The big-play defence.
The San Francisco 49ers are ready to start a new dynasty with a familiar formula.
Next stop, the Big Easy.
Colin Kaepernick and Frank Gore led San Francisco to a record comeback in the NFC championship game Sunday, overcoming an early 17-0 deficit to beat the Atlanta Falcons 28-24 and send the 49ers to their first Super Bowl since 1995.
Gore scored a pair of touchdowns, including the winner with 8:23 remaining for San Francisco's first lead of the day, and the 49ers defence made it stand up. A fourth-down stop at the 10-yard line denied Atlanta another stirring comeback after blowing a big lead.
"Everybody does a little,'' 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said, ``and it adds up to be a lot.''
Joe Montana led the 49ers to four Super Bowl wins and Steve Young took them to No. 5. It's up to Kaepernick and Co. to get No. 6.
"He just competes like a maniac all the time,'' said Harbaugh, whose much-debated decision to bench Alex Smith at midseason now looks like the best move of the year.
Harbaugh was hoppin' mad when a disputed call went against the 49ers on Atlanta's potential winning drive. He leaped in the air, screamed at the officials and had to be restrained by his staff from charging the field.
No complaints when it was over.
"We rose up there at the end,'' Harbaugh said.
The 49ers pulled off the biggest comeback victory in an NFC championship game, according to STATS.
The previous NFC record was 13 points - Atlanta's victory over Minnesota in the 1999 title game, which sent the Falcons to what remains the only Super Bowl in franchise history.
The AFC championship game record is 18 points, when Indianapolis rallied past New England in 2007.
Harbaugh is hardly cool and collected like the 49ers' first Super Bowl-winning coach, Bill Walsh, but has pulled off a similar turnaround in San Francisco. The 49ers had eight straight years without a winning record before their new coach arrived from Stanford in 2011.
He immediately led San Francisco to the cusp of the Super Bowl, losing to the eventual champion New York Giants in overtime in last year's NFC title game, a bitter defeat at home set up by a fumbled return.
This time, the 49ers were the ones winning on the road to set up another celebration in the city by the bay, which is rapidly becoming the new Titletown USA. They'll try to follow the lead of the baseball Giants, who won the World Series in October.