Page last updated on Thu Apr 02 03:45:38 EDT 2015
01/21/2013 12:02 AM EST
Ravens upset Patriots 28-13 to reach Super Bowl

AP Pro Football Writer

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) -- Oh, brother!

John Harbaugh and his Baltimore Ravens set up a family reunion
at the Super Bowl, shutting down the New England Patriots 28-13
Sunday in the AFC championship game.

The Ravens reached their first Super Bowl in 12 years, thanks to
three touchdown passes from Joe Flacco and a defense led by Ray
Lewis that made Tom Brady look downright ordinary.

Next up for Harbaugh and the Ravens is younger brother Jim and
the San Francisco 49ers, who beat Atlanta 28-24 earlier in the
day for the NFC title.

"I don't know if we had a dream this big," John Harbaugh said.
"We had a few dreams, we had a few fights, we had a few
arguments - just like all brothers."

They'll meet in two weeks in New Orleans - what a place for a
party to celebrate the first brother-vs.-brother coaching
matchup in Super Bowl history.

It also will be quite a last game for Lewis, the emotional
linebacker who will retire after the matchup with the 49ers, who
opened as a 5-point favorite.

"This is our time. This is our time," said Lewis, who made 14
tackles Sunday and has 44 in three postseason games after
missing 10 weeks with a torn right triceps.

Driven by Lewis' pending departure from the NFL, Baltimore's
defense stepped up in the playoffs. Brady was 67-0 at home when
leading at halftime, but this was no contest in the second half.

"We've lost before. It takes a while to get over," Brady said.

It also was a first for the Patriots, who hadn't lost an AFC
championship at home.

After they had avenged last year's AFC title game loss at
Gillette Stadium, many of the Ravens gathered on the field
jumping, chest-bumping and whooping before several thousand fans
wearing Ravens jerseys - mostly Lewis' No. 52 - who remained in
the stands.

As in the previous two playoff wins against Indianapolis and
Denver, the Ravens (13-6) were brilliant offensively in spots.
This might be 17-year-veteran Lewis' team, but it's also
Flacco's, and the quarterback's six road wins are the most in
playoff history.

"It was pretty awesome," said Flacco, who has eight touchdown
passes and no interceptions in the playoffs. "We were here last
year and thought we had it, but came up a little short. Guys
came out in the second half and made plays. ... We put pressure
on them like that, and it worked pretty well."

Flacco, whose contract ends after the Super Bowl, is the only
quarterback to win a playoff game in each of his first five
seasons. He was dynamic with his arm and precise with his
decision making. Looking much more the championship passer than
Brady did, his throws of 11 and 3 yards to Anquan Boldin and 5
to Dennis Pitta all were perfect.

The touchdown by Pitta capped the Ravens' best drive of the
game, covering 87 yards in 10 plays and made it 14-13. It
started with a 15-yard defensive pass interference penalty, and
it was an indication of things to come.

"We've always believed in Joe," Harbaugh said. "And for Joe to
come out and to have this kind of a game and this kind of a
stage three weeks in a row ..."

New England (13-5) lost a home AFC title matchup for the first
time in five games. The loss denied Brady and coach Bill
Belichick a shot at their sixth Super Bowl. They've gone 3-2,
losing their last two times in the big game.

Instead, it's the AFC North champion Ravens heading to the Big
Easy, seeking their second NFL championship. San Francisco has
won five.

"All these men out there, there might just be only five of us up
here, but every man out there sacrificed this year for each
other," Lewis said during the trophy ceremony. "And man, we did
it and we're on our way to the Super Bowl. That's awesome."

The Ravens have gotten there the hard way, with no postseason
bye. Then again, five of the last seven Super Bowl champions
took that route.

The Ravens also were pushed into a second overtime in frigid
Denver last weekend before eliminating Peyton Manning and the
top-seeded Broncos.

And now they've cast aside the league's most successful
franchise of the last dozen years.

"I'd probably say we came up a little short in every area,"
Belichick said.

New England, which hasn't won a Super Bowl since the 2004
season, had four injuries, the scariest when running back Stevan
Ridley was knocked flat by Bernard Pollard in the fourth
quarter, forcing a fumble. Baltimore turned that into the final
touchdown, on the only short scoring drive it had, 47 yards.

The Ravens gained just 130 yards in the first half.

Brady guided a 13-play drive to Stephen Gostkowski's 31-yard
field goal for a 3-0 lead. Neither defense yielded a big play,
and punters Zoltan Mesko and Sam Koch were the busiest guys on
the field.

That changed when the teams switched sides for the second
quarter. Baltimore again was pinned deep, at its 10, but Flacco
led a 13-play drive. Ray Rice, whose 83-yard run on the Ravens'
first play from scrimmage in their wild-card round victory here
three years ago, ran left untouched for the TD.

Awakened by Baltimore's march, the Patriots staged a long one of
their own, 79 yards, aided by a 15-yard personal foul by Ravens
linebacker Dannell Ellerbe. Wes Welker picked up 24 yards on a
short pass, then got free in the right corner of the end zone
after a mix-up in the Ravens' secondary, making it 10-7.

It was 13-7 by halftime as Gostkowski connected from 25 yards,
with New England outsmarting Baltimore several times. Danny
Woodhead ran for 7 yards on a direct snap on fourth-and-1 in the
drive. Defensive end Paul Kruger, who's good at sacks, not much
in coverage - found himself downfield on Aaron Hernandez on what
became a 17-yard reception.

But Brady made a mental error himself, not calling timeout
quickly enough after a short scramble. So the Patriots didn't
get a shot at the end zone and Gostkowski made his second kick.

Shockingly for an offense that scored 557 points this season,
that was it for New England.

"We are probably the only team in the AFC that matches up good
with the boy, No. 12 over there and his coach," linebacker
Terrell Suggs said of Brady and Belichick.

NOTES: Brady now has 5,949 yards passing, the most in NFL
history for the postseason. He threw for 320 yards Sunday but
was picked off twice in the fourth quarter. ... Ridley sustained
a head injury but walked off the field. Patriots CB Aqib Talib
hurt his thigh and DT Kyle Love injured his knee. Backup safety
Patrick Chung was helped off the field after one play. ...
Baltimore beat San Francisco 16-6 in the 2011 season.


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