Well, Ravens Nation, it’s finally here.
It’s been over 12 years since we last got to watch our team on football’s biggest stage. None of us expected it to take this long to get back to the Super Bowl. Brian Billick could never quite put together an offense to support his incredible defenses again, and his teams bowed out of the playoffs early in 2001 and 2003. It looked like the 2006 team finally had the offense to challenge for another Lombardi Trophy, but they flamed out in spectacular fashion at home against Indianapolis, scoring just six points.
And now, after four consecutive years of heart-wrenching playoff defeats, John Harbaugh’s squad finally got over the hump in their third attempt in the AFC Championship Game.
The incredible ride ends today, one way or another. All of Baltimore – and Ravens fans everywhere – wants to see it end with purple confetti falling on #52 once again.
KNOW THY ENEMY
HEY, YOU LOOK FAMILIAR ~ Key Connections
Ravens WRs coach Jim Hostler was the QBs coach for the 49ers from 2005-06 and was promoted to offensive coordinator in 2007.
49ers director of player personnel Tom Gamble worked as a pro scout for the Ravens during the 1997 season.
49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman was the assistant offensive line coach for the Ravens from 2006-07. Following the 2007 season, Roman served various roles in the offensive coaching staff at Stanford from 2009-10.
Ravens TE Billy Bajema was selected by the 49ers in the seventh round (249th overall) of the 2005 NFL Draft. Bajema played four seasons (2005-08) in San Francisco, appearing in 61 games.
49ers LB Tavares Gooden was selected by the Ravens in the third round of the 2008 NFL Draft and played three seasons for Baltimore.
HARBOWL, SUPER BAUGH, BRO BOWL, WHATEVER…lots of Harbses!
49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh’s connection to the Ravens is thorough. Jim is the younger brother of Ravens head coach John Harbaugh, and the Harbaughs are the first pair of brothers to be NFL head coaches. John and Jim are the sons of highly-respected college coach Jack Harbaugh, who spent 43 years as a coach in the high school and college ranks.
John began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Western Michigan (1984-86), where Jack was the head coach (1982-86). After the 1986 season, Jack moved on to become an assistant at the University of Pittsburgh, where John followed and became the team’s TEs coach. After one season coaching together at Pitt, John moved on to Morehead State to become the team’s DBs/special teams/strength and conditioning coach.
Jim began his coaching career while he was still an NFL quarterback. Jim served as an unpaid assistant coach at Western Kentucky from 1994-2001 under Jack, who was the head coach. Following a 14-year NFL career, Jim spent two seasons as an offensive assistant with the Raiders from 2002-03 before becoming the head coach at the University of San Diego in 2004. At USD, Jack served as the RBs coach under Jim from 2004-06. Jack also served as the RBs coach at Stanford in 2009 for the Sun Bowl.
Jim played QB at the University of Michigan from 1983-86 under legendary Wolverines head coach Bo Schembechler. During this time, Ravens O-line coach Andy Moeller (1983-86) was a LB there.
Jim also was a QB for the Ravens in 1998, playing in 14 games (12 starts) and throwing for 1,839 yards and 12 TDs.
Ravens defensive quality control coach Matt Weiss has worked under both of the Harbaugh brothers. First, Weiss worked under Jim as a graduate assistant at Stanford from 2005-07 and was promoted to defensive and specials teams assistant coach in 2008. Following the 2008 season, Weiss was hired by John and the Ravens as the head coach’s assistant and eventually promoted to his current role in 2012.
49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio also worked under both Harbaughs. Fangio served under John as the Ravens’ special assistant to the head coach/LBs coach from 2008-09, before leaving to be the defensive coordinator under Jim at Stanford in 2010. Fangio joined Jim in San Francisco in 2011.
49ers K David Akers has now kicked field goals under both Harbaughs. Akers was the kicker for the Philadelphia Eagles from 1999-2010; John was the special teams coordinator from 1998-2006. Akers, now kicking for Jim and the 49ers, signed with San Francisco prior to the 2011 season.
A LOT ON THE LINE
Obviously, the most important prize is the Lombardi Trophy. Everything else is absolutely secondary. However, there are some interesting secondary milestones that a Ravens win in New Orleans would accomplish:
With a victory against the 49ers, the Ravens will capture their second Super Bowl title (2000) in franchise history. The Ravens can become just the fourth team to earn multiple Super Bowl championships since 2000 (NE – 3, NYG – 2 and Pit. – 2).
With a victory over San Francisco, John Harbaugh will set a record for the most playoff wins (9) in a head coach’s first five seasons in NFL history (since 1970 merger). Harbaugh currently has 8, tied with Tom Flores (Oak./LA from 1979-83).
With a win vs. the 49ers, QB Joe Flacco will tie Tom Brady (2000-04) for the most playoff wins (9) by a QB in his first five seasons. Flacco (8) is currently tied with Ben Roethlisberger (2004-08).
If this is officially the second “Harbowl,” then the Ravens hope for a repeat of the first time Harbaugh brother met Harbaugh brother as head coaches of their respective teams.
Back on Thanksgiving night of 2011, the Ravens beat the 49ers, 16-6, at M&T Bank Stadium.
Baltimore’s defense did not allow a touchdown and secured 9 sacks, tying a team record. OLB Terrell Suggs produced 3 of those QB takedowns, while DE Cory Redding added 2.5, and DT Haloti Ngata grabbed 2. The Ravens took a 6-3 halftime lead on 2 K Billy Cundiff field goals (39 and 23 yards).
After the 49ers tied the game on K David Akers’ 52-yard FG, the Ravens produced the game’s only touchdown drive of the contest. The 16-play, 76-yard drive finished when QB Joe Flacco hit TE Dennis Pitta with an 8-yard TD toss on the first play of the fourth quarter. On the drive, Flacco was 4-of-4 on third down, including the scoring throw.
Cundiff closed the game’s scoring with a 39-yard FG with 3:10 left in the final period.
Baltimore’s defense limited the 49ers to 170 total yards and just 2-of-12 on third down. Flacco produced a 100.1 QB rating against one of the league’s best defenses, completing 15 of 23 passes for 161 yards. WR Anquan Boldin caught 4 for 63 yards, while RB Ray Rice produced 24 yards on 3 catches and 59 yards on 21 carries. San Francisco RB Frank Gore was held to 39 rushing yards on 14 runs.
Photo inspired by the works of Brian Crane
Stats, notes, and figures c/o Baltimore Ravens PR