American Football: Sibling showdown as 49ers and Ravens head for the 'Harbaugh Bowl'

Brothers Jim and John will make history when they lead out respective teams at the Super Bowl

Super Bowl XLVII? They should rename it the Harbaugh Bowl. Exactly one year ago Jim and John Harbaugh, head coaches respectively of the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens, fell at the penultimate hurdle. This time around, football's biggest game will truly be a fratricidal affair – the first time that a pair of brothers, separated in age by just 15 months, have ever been in charge of the opposing teams.

And the symmetry doesn't end there. The Harbaughs are not just the first brothers to be NFL head coaches. They both got to the Super Bowl the hard way, by winning their championship games on the road, to cap seasons in which they reshaped two teams celebrated for their defense into showcases for offense.

Sunday produced two gripping contests – but the real upset belonged to Baltimore's John. A year ago the Ravens trooped off the field in dejection after a 20-17 loss at the New England Patriots' Gillette Stadium, having botched a touchdown attempt and then missed a simple field goal in the dying seconds that would have tied the game.

For a while a repeat looked on the cards this time, as Tom Brady's heavily favoured Patriots staked out a 13-7 half-time lead, with statisticians noting that in the previous 67 games started by Brady, New England had never lost when they were ahead at the half. This time though there was a different script.

The quarterback who took command was Baltimore's Joe Flacco, while usually clinical Brady unravelled – as did his receivers. There were dropped passes, tipped passes and interceptions. Flacco by contrast was impeccable, finishing three straight drives with touchdown passes and propelling the Ravens to a 28-13 lead. Baltimore's defense did the rest.

Brady's sixth Super Bowl appearance, a seeming quasi-formality beforehand, was not to be, and long before the end Gillette Stadium was half-empty, as disbelieving fans streamed home. But Brady's failure is Ray Lewis's gain. Three weeks ago, the linebacker whose 17 years of unbroken service have made him the face of the Ravens' franchise announced this season would be his last. Now he has a chance to write a storybook ending to his career.

If the AFC Championship game produced a shock, the NFC one went by the formbook – though not before Jim Harbaugh's 49ers fell to an early 17-point deficit against the Atlanta Falcons. But then San Francisco demonstrated why most people viewed them as the NFC's strongest team – and why Colin Kaepernick is set to be one of the League's next generation of superstar quarterbacks.

After the 49ers had sliced 14 points off that lead with a couple of touchdowns, the Falcons responded with one of their own to lead 24-14. But Kaepernick reeled them in. Last week he destroyed Green Bay with a record 181 rushing yards. This time he threw 16 completions out of 21, for 233 yards in all. Brought in by Jim Harbaugh only in November, Kaepernick was making just his ninth start on Sunday. The 10th will be in New Orleans on 3 February on American football's biggest stage of all: the Harbaugh (sorry, Super) Bowl.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Recruitment Resourcer

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: Do you want to get in...

Ashdown Group: Project Manager - Birmingham - up to £40,000 - 12 month FTC

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Manager - Birmingham - ...

SThree: Recruitment Consultant - IT

£25000 - £30000 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: Sthree are looking fo...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin (based in London)

£20000 - £25000 per annum + commission: SThree: Real Staffing's Pharmaceutical...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before