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Ravens upset Patriots 28-13 to reach Super Bowl

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Ravens upset Patriots 28-13 to reach Super Bowl

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) Look for lots of Harbaughs in New Orleans next week. Two of them will be working the sidelines in the Super Bowl.

Oh, brother!

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

Waiting for them will be his younger brother Jim and the San Francisco 49ers, who beat Atlanta 28-24 for the NFC title. It's the first Super Bowl matching siblings as head coaches.

``I'd like to think that our two teams are very similar,'' said John, who is a year older than Jim. ``I'd like to think when you look at those two teams, you are looking at mirror images of two football teams.''

What the Ravens (13-6) are looking at is 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.

It 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.

``For me to come out and say that this is my last ride and for me now to be headed back to the Super Bowl, for the possibility of me possibly winning a second ring, how else do you cap off a career?'' said Lewis, who had 14 tackles to give him 44 in three playoff games after missing 10 weeks with a torn left triceps.

As in the previous two playoff wins against Indianapolis and Denver, the Ravens 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.

He has eight touchdown passes and no interceptions in this postseason.

``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 ...''

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 scoring throws of 11 and 3 yards to Anquan Boldin and 5 to Dennis Pitta all were perfect.

``We didn't come all the way here to play it safe and hope to win,'' Flacco said. ``We came here to win the AFC championship game and you have to play to win.''

The defense played as big a part, shutting out the league's highest-scoring offense in the second half, twice picking off Brady.

Brady was 67-0 at home when leading at halftime, but this was no contest in the second half.

``We got behind in the second half there and became one-dimensional,'' he said. ``We just couldn't string enough good plays together to get the ball in the end zone.''

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

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

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.

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.

One of the Harbaughs will grab his first ring as head coach.

``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.''

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 hurt his head when he 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 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.

The Ravens gained just 130 yards in the first half, yet trailed by only six points.

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. But Brady and Belichick made mental errors by not calling a timeout quickly enough after a short scramble by the 35-year-old quarterback. 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.

Now comes another intriguing matchup - for everything.

NOTES: Brady 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. ... 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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2018 NFL Playoff Picture: Who to root for in Week 15 if you are a Baltimore Ravens fan

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2018 NFL Playoff Picture: Who to root for in Week 15 if you are a Baltimore Ravens fan

Heading into Week 15, there are plenty of questions surrounding the Baltimore Ravens and the AFC playoff picture. 

As things stand now, the Ravens (7-6) lead a four-way tie for the final Wild Card spot. Their 1-0 record against those other three opponents is the difference with them being in the playoffs. With that, there is no room for error with three weeks left in the season. A win by the Chargers has now narrowed the field even tighter.

Last week, only one result broke the Ravens way, a Pittsburgh Steelers loss to the Oakland Raiders. This week, Baltimore cannot afford a loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-8) with the schedules their competition have remaining.

As always, here are the teams in the playoff picture in the AFC that the Ravens hold a tiebreaker over:
-Tennessee Titans (7-6) -head-to-head
-Denver Broncos (6-7) - head-to-head

With these tiebreakers still up in the air:

-Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5-1)
-New England Patriots (9-4)
-Houston Texans (9-4)
-Miami Dolphins (7-6)
-Indianapolis Colts (7-6)
-Cleveland Browns (5-7-1)
-Cincinnati Bengals (5-8) 

What bodes well for the Ravens is that no team has a tiebreaker locked up over Baltimore. But, the tiebreakers amongst all of their divisional opponents are yet to be decided.

Ravens Week 15 Rooting Guide

Houston Texans (9-4) vs. New York Jets (4-9)
Saturday, Dec. 15 at 4:30 p.m.

The Jets are officially eliminated from playoff contention, while the Texans are leading the AFC South. The Texans have a soft schedule left (@ Eagles and vs. Jaguars), so if the Ravens want a late-season run to propel them to the No. 3 seed they need Houston to lose in this one. A win by the Texans will give them the tiebreaker over Baltimore. Root for the Jets.

Cleveland Browns (5-7-1) vs. Denver Broncos (6-7) 
Saturday, Dec. 15 at 8:20 p.m.

This is a tough pick this week if you are a Ravens fan. A win by both teams would be equally bad for Baltimore. They have the tiebreaker over Denver and even with a win over Cleveland in Week 17, the Browns still could have the tiebreaker. Two Baltimore wins though, no matter who they're against, would place them ahead of both teams. Right now, root for the Broncos (although this might end up hurting the Ravens down the road).

A Broncos win would do twofold, put the Browns on the brink of elimination and if eliminated, the Ravens could have an easier chance at victory in Week 17 to potentially take the division title. This is a rare scenario that a tie might be the best scenario for Baltimore.

Oakland Raiders (3-10) vs. Cincinnati Bengals (5-8)
Sunday, Dec. 16 at 1:00 p.m.

Pretty straight forward here. Oakland is out and Cincinnati is still in contention (technically). Root for the Raiders to eliminate the Bengals.

Tennessee Titans (7-6) vs. New York Giants (5-8) 
Sunday, Dec. 16 at 1:00 p.m.

AFC vs. NFC. A win by the Giants here could go a long way for the Ravens if they end up needing a Wild Card spot. Root for the Giants.

Miami Dolphins (7-6) vs. Minnesota Vikings (6-6-1)
Sunday, Dec. 16 at 1:00 p.m.

Again, AFC vs. NFC. Root for the Vikings. This game in particular needs to go the way of the Ravens because the only teams that Miami have left are the four-win Jags and Bills with the conference tiebreaker still up for grabs.

Dallas Cowboys (8-5) vs. Indianapolis Colts (7-6) 
Sunday, Dec. 16 at 1:00 p.m.

Round III of AFC vs. NFC. Perhaps the most dangerous team to contend with the Ravens for that spot. Root for the Cowboys.

New England Patriots (9-4) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5-1) 
Sunday, Dec. 16 at 4:25 p.m.

Last week we told you to root for the Patriots and then they ended up losing. This week we will tell you to root for the Patriots again. This, however, is for more obvious reasons. 

A Steelers loss and a Ravens win puts Baltimore atop the division and in the driver's seat for the AFC North title. While yes the Ravens can still find another way to win the division and pass the Patriots for a higher seed, Baltimore does not control their playoff fate. With the scenario above, they do.

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Ravens vs. Buccaneers Week 15: Date, time, TV channel, live stream, how to watch

Ravens vs. Buccaneers Week 15: Date, time, TV channel, live stream, how to watch

The Baltimore Ravens (7-6) get set to host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-8) Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium with the postseason in sight.

The Ravens are 3-2 all time against the Bucs with a 1-1 record when playing in Baltimore. The last time these two teams met was back in 2014 when the Ravens handed Tampa Bay a 48-17 loss, marking the most points ever scored by the Ravens on the road.

Here's everything you need to know ahead of the Week 15 matchup.

New Era

Incase you've been living in a hole the last two days, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh announced that rookie Lamar Jackson will be starting Sunday and Joe Flacco would be the backup in what appears to be a new era in Baltimore. 

Both Flacco and Jackson handled the news with class as the decision wasn't that big of surprise considering Jackson has led the team to three wins in their last four matchups. Harbaugh wouldn't divulge if and how they would utilize Flacco's talents, but alternating between the two throughout the matchup could trip up a lot of defenders. On top of that, the Buccaneers' defense is bottom of the barrel ranking 30th in the league in points (29.5), 27th in yards (387.9), 27th in passing yards (268.5) and 20th in rushing yards (119.4). 

Another Defensive Challenge

While their 5-8 record may not show it, the Buccaneers' offense could present a challenge for the Ravens' No. 1 scoring defense. Heading into Week 15, Tampa Bay is ranked 10th in the league in points (25.5), second in yards (430.1), first in passing yards (331.4), but 27th in rushing yards (98.7). Their 4,308 passing yards are the third-most through the first 13 games in NFL history and their 5,591 total yards are the eighth-most through the first 13 games in NFL history.

Wide receiver Mike Evans is currently tied for sixth in the league in receiving touchdowns over the last two seasons at 22, while Cameron Brate is tied for third in the league in receiving touchdowns among tight ends in 2018 at six. The Bucs also have seven different players to score at least five touchdowns so far this season making them just the fifth team to accomplish that .

Wide receiver DeSean Jackson has missed the last two games as he deals with a left thumb injury sustained in the season opener and re-injured against the New York Giants in Week 11. The injury has left him unable to squeeze a football with that hand, so don't expect D-Jack on the field Sunday. 

Postseason In Sight

The Ravens have found themselves in this situation many times before. With three games to play, the Ravens sit in the sixth and final AFC playoff spot and half a game back of the Pittsburgh Steelers for the AFC North title.

In typical fashion, it's going to come down to the wire. The Ravens are in a four-way race with the Colts, Titans and Dolphins for the final playoff spot. A win Sunday against the Buccaneers is a must as they head to Los Angeles in Week 16 to face the Chargers, who just handed the Kansas City Chiefs a rare loss on Thursday Night Football and the Cleveland Browns in Week 17. 

Claiming the division and playing January football for the first time in three seasons is on the horizon, and with two quarterbacks to use at their disposal the Ravens are truly in control of writing their own ending. 

Click here to see the Ravens-Bucs injury report. 

Ravens vs. Buccaneers Week 15 How to Watch:

Who: Baltimore Ravens vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

What: Week 15 regular season

When: Sunday, Dec. 16, 2018, 1:00 p.m. ET

Where: M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, Md

TV Channel: FOX

Live Stream: Watch Now with fuboTV - Try free trial

Radio: WBAL New Radio 1090 and 98Rock

Weather: 47 degrees, mostly cloudy with some rain

Ravens 2018 Regular Season Schedule:

Week 1: Sun., 9/9. Ravens vs. Bills. Win, 47-3 (1-0)

Week 2: Thur., 9/13 Ravens at Bengals. Loss, 34-23 (1-1)

Week 3: Sun., 9/23 Ravens vs. Broncos. Win, 27-14 (2-1)

Week 4: Sun., 9/30 Ravens at Steelers. Win, 26-14 (3-1)

Week 5: Sun., 10/7 Ravens at Browns. Loss, 12-9 (3-2)

Week 6: Sun., 10/14 Ravens at Titans. Win, 21-0 (4-2)

Week 7: Sun., 10/21 vs. Saints, 4:05 p.m. Loss, 24-23 (4-3)

Week 8: Sun., 10/28 @ Panthers, 1:00 p.m. Loss 36-21 (4-4)

Week 9: Sun., 11/4 vs. Steelers, 1:00 p.m. Loss 23-16 (4-5)

Week 10:  BYE week

Week 11: Sun., 11/18 vs. Bengals, 1:00 p.m. Win 24-21 (5-5)

Week 12: Sun., 11/25 vs. Raiders, 1:00 p.m. Win 34-17 (6-5)

Week 13: Sun., 12/2 @ Falcons, 1:00 p.m. Win 26-16 (7-5)

Week 14: Sun., 12/9 @ Chiefs, 1:00 p.m. Loss 27-24 (7-6)

Week 15: Sun., 12/16 vs. Buccaneers, 1:00 p.m.

Week 16: Sat., 12/22 @ Chargers, 8:20 p.m. ET

Week 17: Sun., 12/30 vs. Browns, 1:00 p.m.

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