Efficient quarterbacks and big-play defenses were the deciding factors for the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens on their way to Super Bowl XLVII.
Overcoming a 17-0 second quarter deficit, Colin Kaepernick and Frank Gore fueled San Francisco’s historic comeback defeating the Atlanta Falcons 28-24. The victory will send the 49ers to their first Super Bowl in 18 years.
Matt Ryan and the Falcons fell just 10 yards short of a second consecutive playoff win under the 2 minute warning; this time they needed a touchdown, not a field goal. On fourth down with 1:13 remaining, Linebacker NaVorro Bowman deflected a pass intended for Roddy White which secured the game for San Francisco.
“I take my hat off to Atlanta. They played hard. They’ve got a great team” said 49ers running back Frank Gore, who had 90 rushing yards and a pair of touchdowns. “But we fought, man. We fought and we deserved it.”
“We didn’t make the plays when we had the opportunity,” said Falcons head coach Mike Smith. “There were five or six plays, like in most hard fought games, that make a difference. There were ebbs and flows and changes in momentum, and they made more plays than we did.”
Hours later, in Foxboro, Mass., quarterback Joe Flacco and a tremendous Baltimore defense overcame a halftime deficit to beat Tom Brady and the heavily favored New England Patriots 28-13. Flacco performed magnificently on the road throwing for 240 yards and three touchdowns.
“We’ve always believed in Joe,” said head coach John Harbaugh of his young quarterback. “And for Joe to come out and to have this kind of a game and (on?) this kind of stage three weeks in a row…”
Despite a league high 557 points in the regular season, the Ray Lewis-inspired Ravens’ defence held the Patriots offense to only 13 first half points. Prior to yesterday’s game, Tom Brady and the Patriots were undefeated (67-0) when leading at halftime at home. “I’d probably say we came up a little short in every area,” said Patriots head coach Bill Belichick in the post game interview.
Brothers Jim and John Harbaugh both won on the road on their way to New Orleans. The first ever brother-vs-brother Super Bowl may draw up an awkward two weeks in the Harbaugh household, but there will be more firsts in Super Bowl XLVII that just the Har-Bowl.
Quarterbacks Colin Kaepernick and Joe Flacco will be playing in their first Super Bowls.
The Ravens and 49ers are undefeated in their Super Bowl appearances (6-0), one of these clubs will face their first Super Bowl loss.
The story of the entire playoffs has been the announcement of Ray Lewis’ retirement. The Super Bowl in New Orleans will mark the last game for the greatest middle linebacker to ever play the game. Lewis hopes to go out on top like such players as John Elway and Jerome Bettis.
Jim and John Harbaugh
Head coaches Jim Harbaugh of the San Francisco 49ers (L) and John Harbaugh of the Baltimore Ravens (R), as seen here in their matchup on November 24, 2011, will go head to head in the first brother-vs-brother Super Bowl.
In perhaps in final touchdown reception, tight end Tony Gonzalez #88 of the Atlanta Falcons dunks the ball over the goal post after catching a 10-yard touchdown in the second quarter against the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship game at the Georgia Dome on January 20, 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia.
Frank Gore #21 of the San Francisco 49ers scores a 5-yard rushing touchdown in the third quarter against the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Championship game at the Georgia Dome on January 20, 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia.
Quarterback Matt Ryan #2 of the Atlanta Falcons fumbles the ball and is recovered by outside linebacker Aldon Smith #99 of the San Francisco 49ers in the third quarter in the NFC Championship game at the Georgia Dome on January 20, 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia.
Defensive back Darcel McBath #28, Anthony Dixon #24 and defensive back Perrish Cox #20 of the San Francisco 49ers react after stopping the Atlanta Falcons on fourth down in the fourth quarter in the NFC Championship game at the Georgia Dome on January 20, 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia.
Ray Rice #27 of the Baltimore Ravens runs the ball to score a touchdown in the second quarter against the New England Patriots during the 2013 AFC Championship game at Gillette Stadium on January 20, 2013 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.
Wes Welker #83 of the New England Patriots catches a pass over Bernard Pollard #31 and Corey Graham #24 of the Baltimore Ravens during the 2013 AFC Championship game at Gillette Stadium on January 20, 2013 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.
Anquan Boldin #81 of the Baltimore Ravens scores a touchdown passed by Joe Flacco #5 in the fourth quarter against Devin McCourty #32 of the New England Patriots during the 2013 AFC Championship game at Gillette Stadium on January 20, 2013 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.
A New England Patriots fan reacts after a play against the Baltimore Ravens during the 2013 AFC Championship game at Gillette Stadium on January 20, 2013 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.
An emotional Ray Lewis of the Baltimore Ravens reacts towards the end of the game against the New England Patriots during the 2013 AFC Championship game at Gillette Stadium on January 20, 2013 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.