Ravens coach John Harbaugh wasn’t willing to pick a winner for Super Bowl 50 when reached by telephone Thursday. Too many coaching friends and former players on both teams. Too much respect for both teams.
However, Harbaugh had this to say when asked about Panthers quarterback Cam Newton.
“Everybody’s unique in their own way,” Harbaugh said. “Tom Brady’s incredibly unique in his own way. Peyton (Manning) has been unique in his own way. All the great ones are unique in their own way.
“The thing that makes Cam unique is the fact that he is such an incredible size, speed athlete. He has that ability at a world-class level, and he can really throw the football. All the great quarterbacks can really throw the football. All of those guys are highly-accurate, and they have arm strength. That’s something that the great ones, in my mind, have in common. The difference is the other intangibles they bring to the table. And his athleticism, obviously, is what makes him unique without question. I don’t know if there’s been another one that throws like he does, and has his size-speed characteristics.”
Harbaugh said he had spoken to Panthers coach Ron Rivera several times during the playoffs, and had shared texts with Broncos coach Gary Kubiak. Neither has been to a Super Bowl before as a head coach, although Kubiak has been to six previous Super Bowls as an assistant coach or player.
Harbaugh has fond memories of his only Super Bowl trip as a head coach. The Ravens defeated the 49ers, 34-31, in Super Bowl XLVII, racing to a 28-6 lead in the third quarter, before a power outage at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome halted play and helped change the game’s momentum.
The Ravens were obviously not hampered by the distractions of Super Bowl week. So what was Harbaugh’s approach?
“When we left for the second week, the game plan was pretty much done, prepared, and practiced,” Harbaugh said. “With the distractions that you might have, we didn’t want to be trying to do all that stuff the second week. We had a good opportunity that first week to get a lot of work behind us. We game-planned the first week as if the game was one week away, not two weeks.”
Asked what kind of game he expected Sunday, Harbaugh said a high-scoring affair favored the Panthers.
“If it’s a defensive game, it will go right to the end,” Harbaugh said. “It it’s a high-scoring game, you have to assume it’s going to be Carolina. But then again, you never know, because turnovers are the chemical mix that blows everything up.”
So deep down, who does Harbaugh like? Too hard for Harbaugh. Kubiak was the Ravens' offensive coordinator in 2014, and several ex-Ravens could be key figures Sunday - Panthers left tackle Michael Oher and kicker Graham Gano; and Broncos tight end Owen Daniels and safety Darian Stewart.
“That’s going to be impossible for me to pick one over the other,” Harbaugh said laughing. “Nice try, though.”
MORE RAVENS: Following Kubiak has been good for ex-Raven Daniels