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SCOREBOARD

Sunday, Feb. 3

San Francisco vs. Baltimore, 6 p.m. EST. It'll be Harbaugh vs. Harbaugh when Big Bro John's Baltimore Ravens (13-6) play Little Bro Jim's San Francisco 49ers (13-4-1) in the Super Bowl at New Orleans. On Thanksgiving Day 2011, the Harbaughs became the first brothers to coach against each other in any NFL game. Now they'll be squaring off in the biggest one of all. The 49ers open as 5-point favorites against the Ravens and Ray Lewis, who will retire after the game.

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STARS

Passing

-Joe Flacco, Ravens, threw three touchdown passes in the second half to lead Baltimore to its first Super Bowl in 12 years with a 28-13 victory over New England on Sunday for the AFC championship.

-Colin Kaepernick, 49ers, was 16 of 21 for 233 yards and a touchdown, and ran for 21 yards to lead San Francisco to the Super Bowl with a 28-24 victory over Atlanta.

-Matt Ryan, Falcons, was 30 of 42 for 396 yards and three TDs with an interception in a losing cause as Atlanta fell to San Francisco 28-24 in the NFC championship game.

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Rushing

-Frank Gore, 49ers, ran for 90 yards and a pair of touchdowns, including the winner with 8:23 remaining for San Francisco's first lead of the day in a 28-24 victory over Atlanta.

-Ray Rice, Ravens, had a touchdown run in Baltimore's 28-13 win over New England.

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Receiving

-Julio Jones, Falcons, caught 11 passes for 182 yards and two TDs as Atlanta fell to San Francisco 28-24 in the NFC championship.

-Anquan Boldin, Ravens, had two touchdown receptions in the fourth quarter of Baltimore's 28-13 AFC championship win over New England.

-Vernon Davis, 49ers, had five catches for 106 yards and a TD in San Francisco's 28-24 Super Bowl-clinching victory over Atlanta.

-Wes Welker, Patriots, made eight receptions for 117 yards and a touchdown in a losing cause as New England fell to Baltimore 28-13.

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Defense

-Patrick Willis, 49ers, had 11 tackles as San Francisco topped Atlanta 28-24 in the NFC championship game.

-Cary Williams, Ravens, picked off Tom Brady in the end zone with 1:06 left to seal the game and a Super Bowl appearance for Baltimore with a 28-13 victory over New England.

-Chris Culliver, 49ers, intercepted Matt Ryan to halt a drive by Atlanta in San Francisco's Super Bowl-clinching 28-24 win.

- Ray Lewis, Ravens, had 14 tackles in Baltimore's 28-13 win over New England. He now has 44 tackles in three playoff games after missing 10 weeks with a triceps injury.

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BROTHER BOWL

Baltimore's John Harbaugh and San Francisco's Jim Harbaugh will celebrate the first brother-vs.-brother coaching matchup in Super Bowl history when their teams won their conference championship games Sunday. They became the first pair of brothers to coach against each other in any NFL game on Thanksgiving Day 2011.

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STATS & STREAKS

Baltimore's Joe Flacco won his fifth road playoff game, the most in NFL history by a starting quarterback, by beating New England on Sunday in the Ravens' 28-13 win Sunday. ... New England lost a home AFC title matchup for the first time in five home games. The loss denied Tom 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. ... After beating Atlanta in the NFC championship game, San Francisco is looking to join Pittsburgh as the only franchises with six Super Bowl titles. It's the 49ers' first Super Bowl appearance since 1995. ... New England, which had the highest-scoring offense in the NFL this season, was held to a season-low point total in its 28-13 loss to Baltimore and more than 20 below the team's average. ... Brady was 67-0 at home when leading at halftime before the 28-13 loss to the Ravens.

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COMEBACK KIDS

San Francisco erased a 17-0 deficit and beat Atlanta 28-24, pulling off the biggest comeback victory in an NFC championship game, according to STATS. The previous NFC record was 13 points - Atlanta's victory over Minnesota in the 1999 title game, which sent the Falcons to what remains the only Super Bowl in franchise history. In the AFC, the record is 18 points, when Indianapolis rallied past New England in 2007.

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BRADY BOMBS

Tom Brady, who had 37 touchdowns and eight interceptions in the first 17 games this season, was intercepted twice in New England's 28-13 loss to Baltimore in the AFC championship game Sunday night. Brady completed 29 of 54 passes for 320 yards and a touchdown, and dropped to 5-3 in his eight games against the Ravens, including the playoffs. The Ravens are the only team he has thrown more interceptions against (10) than touchdowns (eight).

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SWAN SONG?

Following Atlanta's 28-24 loss to San Francisco, Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez still has a 13th Pro Bowl to play in, but after spending the season saying he was 95 percent certain he'll retire after the season, he sounded like he's now at 100 percent. ``I'm not going to cry about it,'' the 36-year-old Gonzalez said after his 16th NFL season. ``I walk away with the satisfaction I left everything, absolutely everything, every time I was on the field. I wish it would have culminated with the Super Bowl, but it didn't.''

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SIDELINED

New England Patriots running back Stevan Ridley left Sunday's AFC championship game after being hit in the head in the fourth quarter of the team's 28-13 loss to Baltimore. Ridley did not move his legs for a minute or so. The Patriots' training staff and coach Bill Belichick rushed onto the field to check on him as the officials tried to sort out who had recovered the fumble. Cornerback Aqib Talib hurt his thigh and defensive tackle Kyle Love injured his knee. Backup safety Patrick Chung was helped off the field after one play.

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SPEAKING

``He just competes like a maniac all the time. It's always the same when I'm looking in through the facemask.'' - San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh on Colin Kaepernick, who helped lead the 49ers to the Super Bowl with a 28-24 win at Atlanta.

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``Hey, Jim, congratulations. You did it. You're a great coach. Love you.'' - Baltimore coach John Harbaugh, whose Ravens topped New England 28-13 to set up a Super Bowl showdown with brother Jim, the coach of the San Francisco 49ers.

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Online:http://pro32.ap.org/poll andhttp://twitter.com/AP-NFL

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Ravens looking to make a statement in Kansas City against the unbeaten Chiefs

Ravens looking to make a statement in Kansas City against the unbeaten Chiefs

Depending on who’s asked, Sunday’s game is either a statement waiting to be made, or just another game to play. 

In perhaps the weekend’s most anticipated game, the Ravens will head to Arrowhead Stadium to face the unbeaten Chiefs on Sunday at 1 p.m. It’s an opportunity for the Ravens to stake their claim as one of the NFL’s best, against the league’s most explosive offense.

“Every game for us is a statement game,” Ronnie Stanley said. “We’ve been downplayed since the beginning of the season. Every game (is), and this just happens to be the next one.”

But while it’s being billed as a game between two of the NFL’s hottest offenses led by two bright stars at quarterback, it’s still just the third game of the season. 

“Not really,” Marshal Yanda said on if this game is a measuring stick. “We focus on the gameplan. We focus on practice and sharpening things up, just getting better every single day. Obviously, we know that they’re a good football team, and we’re going to respect them. But we’re just more worried about what we can control in this building and just getting better every day.”

There’s two mindsets, but it’s impossible to look past what Sunday’s matchup could mean. 

Firstly, it would be at least a modicum of revenge for last year’s 27-24 overtime loss, a loss which Ravens players and coaches have said still sticks with them. 

But perhaps more importantly, it would give the Ravens a leg up early in the season on one of the favorites in the AFC. 

“We’re trying to make our way,” coach John Harbaugh said. “There will be a lot at stake at the end of the year when you count them up, but right now, both teams are trying to find who they are and are trying to win an early AFC matchup. It’s just kind of an early-season game.”

At 2-0, the opportunity is there on-paper for the Ravens to state their claim atop the conference, especially with the rest of the AFC North’s start to the season.

Cincinnati stumbled out of the gate and is 0-2, as is Pittsburgh, which just lost Ben Roethlisberger for the season to an injury. 

The Browns are 1-1 with the Rams coming to town on Sunday, meaning the opportunity is there for the Ravens to put some distance between themselves and the rest of the conference early on.

In order for the Ravens to do so, however, they’ll have to get by Patrick Mahomes and company.

“It’s a big challenge for us in the back end, a big challenge for the defense and for this ball club on the road against a playoff-caliber team,” cornerback Brandon Carr said. “They have it all. We’re excited to see what we’re made of, so it’s a big challenge for us, trying to find a way to get to 3-0.”

Still, Sunday’s game is more than just a game on paper. The Ravens can firmly cement themselves as one of the NFL’s best amongst the minds of many in the league. Even if they knew that already themselves.

“My job is to control what I can control, and that’s my offense,” Lamar Jackson said. “I don’t really care about the hype. I don’t even care about the hype they’re giving us now. They were just doubting us the whole offseason. Like I said, we’re just going to go in there and perform.”

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Ravens' 'Mile High Miracle' the biggest snub from NFL Top 100 Greatest Plays list

Ravens' 'Mile High Miracle' the biggest snub from NFL Top 100 Greatest Plays list

The Mile High Miracle isn’t the best, most creative moniker in the world. But it is one of the 100 greatest plays in NFL history.

At least, according to just about everyone besides the NFL.

The NFL Network released their top 100 plays in league history over the course of the last two weeks, and several worthy plays made the list. The Immaculate Reception, The Catch, The Helmet Catch, and many others made appearances. There were plenty of Hail Mary’s too.

And yet, the defining play from one of the great playoff runs this century, in the final minute of perhaps the single best game of the decade, didn’t make the cut.

Do you know what did make the list? A fumble recovery returned for a touchdown from the Patriots against the Jets.

What’s that? Doesn’t ring a bell? That’s because most fans know it by a different name: The Butt Fumble.


That’s right. A moment only famous for how many ways Twitter was able to make fun of it made the list of the literal 100 greatest plays in NFL history. It was a gaffe, not a great play, and the NFL chose to raise it up in lieu of Joe Flacco-to-Jacoby Jones, staring elimination in the face, with 30 seconds left, on the road, in freezing weather, in front of one of the most raucous fanbases in the league.

It wasn’t just Ravens fans who were upset on Twitter. Plenty of fans of other teams, including rivals like the Steelers, couldn’t believe the snub. It quickly became the biggest talking point online, once it became obvious the Mile High Miracle wasn’t going to come up eventually.

Now, it makes sense why some Ravens plays were left off. Ray Rice’s legendary conversion of 4th-and-29 off a dump-off pass in San Diego, otherwise known as “Hey diddle diddle, Ray Rice up the middle” would likely have just brought more anger than anything else, give his given his exile from the league in the wake of his domestic violence case.

And many of the Ravens’ all-time greatest players played less glamorous positions. You won’t see many Jonathan Ogden pancake blocks or Ray Lewis form tackles on typical highlight reels.

One Ravens play actually did make the list, with Ed Reed’s record-setting 108-yard interception return for a touchdown showing up in the back half of the Top 100. 

But Reed’s return, as amazing as it was, isn’t the greatest, most iconic moment in franchise history. It’s not the moment fans still talk about, remembering where they were when it happened, in the same way my parents remember where they were when we first walked on the moon.

The Prayer In Thin Air (a much better nickname for the moment) is a top-30 play in NFL history, at minimum. Leaving it off a Top 100 list is indefensible enough in a vacuum, but when you see the types of jokes they included? It quickly becomes easy to throw out the list altogether.

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