Tag Archive | "San Francisco"

Perfectly imperfect Ravens show us all they were champions in end

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Perfectly imperfect Ravens show us all they were champions in end

Posted on 04 February 2013 by Luke Jones

NEW ORLEANS — Even after witnessing the most incredible month in the history of the Baltimore Ravens, it’s still difficult to believe it all happened in the hours following their 34-31 win in Super Bowl XLVII.

The Ravens have had better and more talented teams than this group that finished the regular season with a 10-6 record, good enough to win the AFC North but hardly anything to write home about. The offense and Super Bowl most valuable player Joe Flacco were exceptional at times this season but were maddeningly inconsistent as well. A defense regarded as one of the NFL’s finest for more than a decade was far from dominating due to age and a plethora of injuries, taking a significant step back as stars such as Terrell Suggs and Ray Lewis missed significant time.

A three-game losing streak in the month of December that included the firing of offensive coordinator Cam Cameron left the Ravens looking anything but “super” as they desperately searched for answers. Frankly, it was difficult to decide just how good they were — or even if they were at all.

Yet, there they stood on the on-field stage at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome after winning the second NFL title in the 17-year history of the franchise. It wasn’t pretty as the Ravens nearly squandered a 22-point second-half lead, but they prevailed, earning the right to call themselves champions.

“It couldn’t end in a better way,” safety Ed Reed said. “The game was a display of the whole year. Started good, got ugly, ended great. Ended great.”

Perhaps the 35-minute power outage was the appropriate symbol of where the Ravens had been over the last six weeks. Just as a 28-6 lead evaporated as the San Francisco 49ers pulled to within two points with just under 10 minutes remaining in the game, the Ravens appeared to be knocked out in December after suffering their third consecutive loss in a humiliating 34-17 final at home against the Denver Broncos in mid-December. At that point, the Ravens looked more like a team that might not win another game before regrouping to make the incredible run to New Orleans.

A 9-2 record that stood among the best in the NFL — even if many questioned the validity of that mark after several underwhelming wins — had fallen to 9-5, with many wondering if the Ravens were bursting at the seams with dissension. However, they stuck together, insisting all their goals still stood in front of them while fans and media alike wondered if they were finished. They were the truest form of a family, at least as close to one as a professional football team could be as players shared their faith and love for one another openly down the final stretch of the season.

“We had a lot of guys injured,” safety Bernard Pollard said. “But at the same time, the camaraderie within that the locker room — this is the closest team I’ve ever been on in my life. Like I said, we came together and fought the good fight.”

Yes, these Ravens were inspired by a returning Lewis in the postseason, but it was the play of Flacco that took them to new heights as the fifth-year quarterback was the best player in the NFL during the playoffs. His play and the improved offensive line after the reinsertion of Bryant McKinnie at the left tackle position were all new offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell needed to propel the Ravens to new heights on that side of the football.

That offense looked as elite as ever in the first half on Sunday night, but the 49ers regrouped in slowing the Ravens’ passing attack while the running game remained a non-factor. Meanwhile, the Baltimore defense wilted, looking tired and lacking answers for 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick as he led San Francisco to three second-half touchdowns and a field goal.

As they had countless times throughout the season, the Ravens appeared on the ropes with the offense sputtering and Lewis’ once-mighty defense completely exhausted. But as savvy veteran teams often do, the Ravens had enough in them to make a few more plays to finish the job.

With the 49ers having three shots at the end zone from the 5-yard line and trailing 34-29 at the two-minute warning, the old Ravens defense made its final great stand with Lewis at the helm. The unit forced three incompletions to hand the ball back to the Baltimore offense. It was vintage Baltimore defense, even if that idea will take on new meaning beginning next years as the Ravens face life without Lewis leading the way.

The final stand was the end of an era with Lewis retiring and Reed potentially playing his final game with the Ravens. And in the context of this 2012 season, it was the last example of one unit — offense, defense, or special teams — picking up the others in crunch time.

“It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t perfect, but it was us,” coach John Harbaugh said. “The final series of Ray Lewis’ career was a goal-line stand to win the Lombardi Trophy. As Ray said on the podium, how could it be any better than that?”

Harbaugh’s right. It was the only fitting way to end the perfectly imperfect season that included ups and downs, peaks and valleys, and trials and tribulations. Of course, the Ravens ended the year on the highest note of all in winning their first Super Bowl title since Jan. 28, 2001.

In a season in which we constantly asked the real Baltimore Ravens to stand up, we finally learned who they really were over the course of the last six week as Harbaugh and his team dusted themselves off from a miserable stretch in early December to start anew. They knew something the rest of us didn’t as the Ravens pulled off the unlikeliest of wins in Denver, exorcised the demons from a year ago in New England, and polished off their final act as a postseason underdog by turning the lights out — literally and figuratively — on the 49ers.

On Feb. 3, 2013, we finally figured out the only appropriate way to describe this unique football team after a season of struggling to find the proper words.

They were champions.

 

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See Harbaugh, Flacco, Lewis and more react to Super Bowl win here

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See Harbaugh, Flacco, Lewis and more react to Super Bowl win here

Posted on 04 February 2013 by WNSTV

Our WNST.net staff took some video of Baltimore Ravens players offering their reactions to the team’s 34-31 over the San Francisco 49ers Sunday for their second Super Bowl title in franchise history.

Head Coach John Harbaugh…

Super Bowl XLVII MVP QB Joe Flacco…

Retiring future Hall of Fame LB Ray Lewis…

New Orleans native and future Hall of Fame S Ed Reed (Part 1)…

Ed Reed Part 2…

WR Torrey Smith…

DL Haloti Ngata…

(We apologize for the quality of the video at times. As you can imagine, the postgame scene was mobbed and our crew was multitasking to say the least.)

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Ravens 34, 49ers 31 Final Box Score

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Ravens 34, 49ers 31 Final Box Score

Posted on 03 February 2013 by WNST Staff

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Ravens-49ers: Inactives and pre-game notes

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Ravens-49ers: Inactives and pre-game notes

Posted on 03 February 2013 by Luke Jones

NEW ORLEANS — After two weeks of preparation and buildup, the time has finally arrived for Super Bowl XLVII.

Trying to win the second Super Bowl championship in the 17-year history of the franchise, the Baltimore Ravens meet the San Francisco 49ers at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans in the culmination of a 20-game marathon that included tragedy, trials, and tribulations. Led by quarterback Joe Flacco, the Ravens have rolled off playoff wins over Indianapolis, Denver, and New England to wind up in the Super Bowl only a month after most left them for dead in the final month of the regular season.

Both teams are in excellent shape — or as well as can be expected at the end of a long season — from a health standpoint as no players were listed worse than probable on the final injury report of the week.

Six of the seven inactives for the Ravens are a repeat of the AFC Championship game, with only defensive lineman DeAngelo Tyson replacing veteran cornerback Chris Johnson among the 46 active players for the Super Bowl. This isn’t surprising given the 49ers’ propensity for running the football in comparison to the pass-happy Patriots.

Baltimore owns the 3-1 edge in the all-time series as these teams meet in the postseason for the first time ever. The Ravens are looking to win their first championship since the 2000 season while San Francisco eyes its sixth Super Bowl championship and first since the 1994 season.

The Ravens are wearing white jerseys and black pants while the 49ers are donning their red tops with gold pants.

The referee for Super Bowl XLVII is Jerome Boger.

Here are Sunday night’s inactives …

BALTIMORE
CB Asa Jackson
S Omar Brown
CB Chris Johnson
LB Adrian Hamilton
OL Ramon Harewood
WR Deonte Thompson
DT Bryan Hall

SAN FRANCISCO
QB Scott Tolzien
S Trenton Robinson
RB Jewel Hampton
LB Cam Johnson
DT Tony Jerod-Eddie
G Joe Looney
DT Ian Williams

Follow WNST on Twitter throughout the night as Drew Forrester, Nestor Aparicio, Glenn Clark, and I bring live updates and analysis from New Orleans.

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Ravens-49ers: Five predictions for Super Bowl XLVII

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Ravens-49ers: Five predictions for Super Bowl XLVII

Posted on 03 February 2013 by Luke Jones

Sixty minutes remain in the 2012 season for the Baltimore Ravens.

Only sixty minutes are left in the Hall of Fame career of 37-year-old linebacker Ray Lewis.

Head coach John Harbaugh, quarterback Joe Flacco, and the Ravens might call themselves Super Bowl champions after 60 minutes of play in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans on Sunday night. To do it, they must topple the San Francisco 49ers, a team with a loaded roster and more talent than Baltimore.

The 49ers are the better overall team — or at least looked like it all season — but the Ravens have heard that story before and are fine being underdogs as we learned against the Denver Broncos and the New England Patriots. Baltimore prevailed in the most-recent meeting with the 49ers last season and owns a 3-1 advantage in the all-time regular-season series.

But none of that matters now as the Ravens and 49ers play for the right to be called champions of Super Bowl XLVII.

Here’s what to expect as the 13-6 Ravens attempt to win their second NFL championship and first since Jan. 28, 2001 while San Francisco tries to win its sixth Super Bowl title and first since the 1994 season …

1. Ray Lewis will provide a solid but unspectacular effort in his final NFL game with nine tackles against the run-heavy San Francisco offense. The 49ers will have some success running the football with their read-option attack, but the presence of Lewis and Dannell Ellerbe at inside linebacker — both missed the Dec. 9 game against Washington’s similar running game — will make a major difference in preventing running back Frank Gore from having a big day. Lewis is a clear liability in pass coverage and the Ravens will be vulnerable should he need to match up with a tight end or running back at any point, but the veteran still plays the run solidly. It won’t be a performance reminiscent of Super Bowl XXXV, but Lewis’ cerebral presence will be a major asset in trying to deal with the 49ers’ pistol formation.

2. 49ers tight end Vernon Davis will be problematic over the middle of the field, catching a touchdown and 85 receiving yards to lead the 49ers. The Ravens have proven over and over they have few answers for the top tight ends in the NFL as Aaron Hernandez was the latest to have a strong game against them in the conference championship. Ellerbe and strong safety Bernard Pollard will be the ones to draw the assignment most often, but that becomes dangerous when you consider how critical each is to stopping the run against such a unique offense. Defensive coordinator Dean Pees will mix it up as much as he can, but Davis will be difficult to stop and the 49ers would be wise to go to him early and often.

3. As I predicted in the AFC Championship game, the team that wins the battle in the red zone will prevail in New Orleans. The Ravens were 4-for-4 in the red zone against New England and held the Patriots to one touchdown in four trips inside the 20. It’s a simple concept, but the team that can limit its opponents to field goals inside the red zone will have a great chance to win in what should be a very close game. The Baltimore defense has employed a “bend but don’t break” philosophy all season long and just finds the ability to tighten up when opponents see the end zone in clear focus. The Ravens ranked second in red-zone defense (43.4 percent) while the 49ers were 21st in red-zone offense (50.9 percent). Meanwhile, the Baltimore offense scored touchdowns on 57.1 percent of trips inside the 20 (11th in the NFL) while San Francisco allowed touchdowns in 61.1 percent of opponents’ red-zone opportunities. The team that wins this battle will raise the Vince Lombardi Trophy.

4. San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick will play admirably, but a critical turnover in the second half will cost the 49ers dearly. Making his 10th career start on Sunday, Kaepernick is already an incredible story as he’s found success so quickly after replacing former starter Alex Smith midway through the season. His ability to make huge plays as a runner kept Pees and the Baltimore defense awake at night over these last two weeks, and the Ravens will be careful to protect the edges and force the 49ers to count on inside runs with Gore. Kaepernick’s arm shouldn’t be slept on by the Baltimore defense, but you feel better about the thought of him dropping back to throw 35 or 40 times as opposed to letting him rush for 85 yards in open spaces continuously. As impressive as he’s been in the postseason, Kaepernick hasn’t faced a defense as hot as this one and he’ll throw a crucial interception in the fourth quarter to swing the momentum in the Ravens’ favor.

5. Continuing one of the best postseasons in NFL history, Joe Flacco shows the world it’s his time as he leads the Ravens to a 27-24 victory and is named Super XLVII Most Valuable Player. I picked against the Ravens in Denver and Foxborough, so fans may wish I were doing it again but I just can’t overlook what’s happened over the last month. The offensive line has been exceptional, the defense more dynamic, and the Ravens just have the feel of a champion at this point. This will be a close game, but I’m going to side with the team that has the better quarterback as I erroneously attempted to do in picking the Broncos and the Patriots. Flacco has been brilliant in the playoffs, throwing eight touchdown passes without an interception, and he has continued to remain even-keeled throughout this improbable run. He’ll throw for 250 yards and two touchdowns to put a bow on one of the greatest individual playoff runs in NFL history. Kaepernick might be the next big thing at the quarterback position, but Flacco and Harbaugh finally step into the limelight they deserve and Lewis rides off into the sunset with the franchise’s second Super Bowl title.

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49ers make final prep for “bright lights” of Superdome

Posted on 02 February 2013 by WNST Staff

NEW ORLEANS— The lights of the Super Bowl appeared a little brighter for 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh, as the team went through 15 minutes of stretching and playing catch at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

The 49ers held their final get-together, a light workout on the eve of Super Bowl XLVII against the Baltimore Ravens, in front of 11 bus loads of family and friends. As the coaches and players walked onto the playing field, one person in the crowd prompted the group to perform the 49ers’ traditional victory cheer. The man shouted, “Who’s got it better than us?” And hundreds of 49ers supporters replied in unison, “Nobody!”

That brought a smile to Harbaugh’s face and he applauded the fans’ efforts. Afterward, the large contingent was invited onto the field to pose for pictures and get autographs. The brief walk-through practice had a football purpose, too.

“We wanted to come over,” Harbaugh said. “And the football part of it is getting used to the lights. They looked a little brighter than the last time we were down here.”

The 49ers played Nov. 25 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, a game in which quarterback Colin Kaepernick made his first career road start in a 31-21 victory over the New Orleans Saints.

Harbaugh said he wanted the players to visit the locker room and put on their game cleats to check out the playing surface with “pat-and-go” drills. Harbaugh joined the three quarterbacks in throwing passes to players at all positions.

“Also, wanted to get a stretch, get the blood moving a little bit,” Harbaugh said. “And get some new blood going. Then, afterward, enjoy it with your family. Get some pictures and make it possible for everybody to come down to the Super Bowl field.”

The most popular player on the field was Kaepernick. He was surrounded by a large circle of people seeking photos. Harbaugh said Kaepernick appears to remain unfazed by his new fame.

“I don’t see any change, one way or the other,” Harbaugh said. “He is who he is. He has been pretty steady with his demeanor.”

The 49ers are scheduled for their normal night-before-game routine of meetings at the team hotel, Harbaugh said.

“I feel good,” Harbaugh said. “The preparation has been outstanding, very focused. The players care about winning. They care about this team, and that’s complimentary to the players and the way their focus has been. And that’s not something that’s been just this week. That wasn’t just created this week. That’s been all season and the offseason. It speaks very highly of the players.”

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Ravens, 49ers look to be at full strength for Super Bowl XLVII

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Ravens, 49ers look to be at full strength for Super Bowl XLVII

Posted on 01 February 2013 by Luke Jones

NEW ORLEANS — There were no surprises on the final injury report of the week as the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers are both in excellent shape heading into Super Bowl XLVII on Sunday.

Neither team listed a player worse than probable as the Ravens listed 14 players with that designation and San Francisco listed a dozen players as probable. Baltimore’s entire 53-man roster practiced fully all week while 49ers linebackers Ahmad Brooks and Aldon Smith were limited in practices all week with shoulder injuries.

The only real injury concern for the Ravens last week was linebacker Dannell Ellerbe, who has dealt with an ankle injury since late November. However, the fourth-year defensive player benefited from an extra week of rest and was a full participant in three practices held in New Orleans.

Both teams will hold light walk-throughs on Saturday that are closed to the media.

BALTIMORE
PROBABLE: WR Tandon Doss (ankle), LB Dannell Ellerbe (toe/back), CB Asa Jackson (thigh), FB Vonta Leach (knee/ankle), LB Ray Lewis (triceps), LB Abert McClellan (shoulder), DE Pernell McPhee (thigh), DT Haloti Ngata (knee), RB Bernard Pierce (knee/thigh), TE Dennis Pitta (thigh), WR David Reed (thigh), S Ed Reed (shoulder), CB Jimmy Smith (abdominal), LB Terrell Suggs (achilles/biceps)

SAN FRANCISCO
PROBABLE: LB Navorro Bowman (shoulder), LB Ahmad Brooks (shoulder), TE Garrett Celek (foot), S Dashon Goldson (foot), RB Frank Gore (shoulder/ankle), LB Clark Haggans (shoulder), G Mike Iupati (shoulder), RB LaMichael James (finger), RB Bruce Miller (shoulder), LB Aldon Smith (shoulder), DT Justin Smith (elbow/triceps), LB Patrick Willis (shoulder)

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Time now for “other” Harbaugh to step outside brother’s shadow once and for all

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Time now for “other” Harbaugh to step outside brother’s shadow once and for all

Posted on 01 February 2013 by Luke Jones

NEW ORLEANS — I’ll never forget my reaction upon learning the Ravens were interested in John Harbaugh as a candidate to replace the fired Brian Billick as head coach in 2008.

I wasn’t alone as many asked the same question about the Philadelphia Eagles assistant and longtime special teams coordinator of Andy Reid.

Don’t they mean Jim?

Of course, Ravens fans were familiar with former NFL quarterback Jim Harbaugh after his stop in Baltimore during the 1998 season, but only the savviest football fans knew anything about his older brother by 15 months. Even watching the brothers together in a press conference two days before the Ravens and San Francisco 49ers meet in Super Bowl XLVII, you get the sense the older brother is still trying to escape the younger one’s shadow.

John wore a sharp suit while the San Francisco coach wore a black sweatshirt, khakis, and a 49ers cap. It was a sharp contrast as John has embraced the media coverage of Super Bowl week — or at least tolerates it far better — while Jim has appeared disinterested in any and all questions except those about his parents and son Jay, who works as an assistant for John and the Ravens. The Baltimore head man buys into the corporate image while Jim, the accomplished former pro quarterback, looks the part of the old high school jock with nothing to prove.

It makes no difference in how either is truly evaluated as each Harbaugh brother is a terrific coach, with a combined five conference championship appearances in seven seasons between them. But John has always balanced celebrating his younger brother’s accomplishments with a tenacious desire to be as good as he possibly can despite lacking the physical tools Jim had growing up.

John played college football at Miami University of Ohio, but Jim starred for one of the biggest programs in the country at the University of Michigan. The older brother became a college coach while the younger one played quarterback in the NFL.

Even when it appeared John had finally found a way to outdo his brother by leading the Ravens to playoff victories in each of his first three seasons as head coach — including an AFC championship game appearance — Jim was hired by San Francisco and led the 49ers to the conference championship in each of his first two seasons, culminating with their teams meeting in New Orleans on Sunday.

“There are none better than Jim Harbaugh, and I mean that seriously,” John said on Friday. “There’s no better coach in the National Football League than this guy right here.”

The brothers said they would hire the other if and when the time comes that one loses his head coaching job, but the compliments flowed more freely from John’s mouth than they did from Jim, who replied to his other brother’s compliment by suggesting father Jack Harbaugh was the best coach of them all.

Being older and the more media-friendly brother, John took the lead on most questions and was asked if he still feels the need or desire to want to protect his younger brother. Even though Jim was the better athlete and became the starting quarterback on their high school team as a sophomore, it was John who smoothed things over with teammates taking issue with Jim’s cocky demeanor.

Now, however, the older brother competes directly against blood after so many battles growing up in the backyard. There’s no need to protect, even if their bond is still strong.

“No, not at all. I suspect he feels the same way,” John said. “It’s about the teams. We are fiercely loyal, there’s no doubt. We all say that. Not just of one another and we always have been. That’s definitely not ever going to change, we will continue to be fiercely loyal and protective of one another, but also of our teams.”

Perhaps the most memorable moment of Friday’s press conference was John’s description of following Jim’s 15-year playing career in the NFL while he plodded through the lesser-known collegiate coaching ranks before finally reaching Philadelphia and the NFL in 1998 — the only season his older brother played in Baltimore.

It was a glimpse into the human element of this remarkable meeting of brothers at the Super Bowl and shows how often John has been the one rooting on his younger brother, who always owned the spotlight.

“I can just remember living and dying, along with our parents and [sister] Joani, with every single snap that Jim ever took as an NFL football player, whether it was Chicago or Indianapolis, or all the other places he was at. That is how it is when you’re family.”

The time feels right for John to finally step away from his brother’s shadow and finally put to rest the notion of him being “Jim’s older brother.” We’ve known in Baltimore just how special the “other” Harbaugh is for quite some time, but Sunday will give him a chance to do what he really wants — even if he’d never admit it because of his love for his brother.

He wants to beat Jim, the man who was bigger, taller, faster, and better than him on the field despite his best efforts and many accomplishments on which he should be very proud. The sideline has become the great equalizer for the 50-year-old Ravens head coach, but one brother will leapfrog the other in that department after the Ravens or 49ers are crowned Super Bowl champions.

You can tell how badly John Harbaugh wants this based on everything he’s done throughout the week in New Orleans. He’s looked and talked the part of a champion as he has throughout his five seasons in Baltimore. He was born to be in a Super Bowl.

Both men are fantastic leaders worthy of a championship, but only one will prevail on Sunday.

“Great competitions have been won and adversity has been battled through by both teams,” John said. “For the side that comes up short, it’s going to be a bitter disappointment. That’s how football works. That’s how life is, and we understand that.”

Knowing from where they’ve come and their respective backgrounds, it’s tough not to root for John, the successful and loving older brother who never could quite do the same things his younger brother did on the field.

The timing feels right for that competition to finally swing in the opposite direction.

And maybe we’ll refer to Jim as “John’s younger brother” just this once.

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Harbaugh brothers reunite two days before Super Bowl XLVII

Posted on 01 February 2013 by WNST Staff

Opening Statements:

John: “Welcome, thanks for coming. I just want to start by saying what an honor it is for both of us to be here with each other, no question about it. What a very exciting moment it is, but even more than that, for our families to be here. For our mom and dad, sitting right over there, Jack and Jackie and for Grandpa Joe – 97-years-old and going strong –

grandpa Joe Sepidi and Bob Sepidi, our uncle, and Chad, our cousin. Any other family members out there? Thanks for being here and just as far as our team goes, we will be doing a normal Friday practice. We’re going to head over to the Saints facility, which Jim has been great about and the Niners organization, giving us an opportunity to get over there and take advantage of that facility, which has been good for us. We’ll be early, a little earlier than normal, and we’ll be long gone before they get over there. It will be a normal Friday practice with things we do on Friday, and we’ll be moving on from there.”

Jim: “I concur.”

 

(on which brother took more risks growing up)

Jim: “My memories of this season right now and what got us here, and how hard it was to get here, tremendously excited to be here. Looking very much forward to the game, the competition, but as I look back on the season, the greatest share is how our players played. Going back to our very first game in Green Bay, Randy Moss catches a big touchdown, Alex Smith has a great game, David Akers kicks a 63-yard field goal. We were down here just a couple of months ago playing in New Orleans and Ahmad Brooks, huge interception in that game that really turned it. Donte Whitner had an interception for a touchdown. Colin (Kaepernick), the way he was prepared and ready to step in in the big Monday night game against Chicago, and has done such a terrific job. Really happy for his success. The way our players have played, that is why we’re here, not because of any coaching decisions or any way that we were when we were kids. Really a credit to those men, and looking forward to the game.”

John: “I concur.”

 

(on whether they could work together as coaches)

Jim: “Definitely, I would work for him.”

John: “I concur. No question about it and we’ve had that conversation in the past. It just never really worked out timing-wise. I’d love to work for Jim, I’d love it. It would be the greatest thing in the world. We almost made it happen at Stanford at one time. It would be an honor to have him on the staff, he’s a great coach. You always try to get great coaches, and there are none better than Jim Harbaugh, and I mean that seriously. There’s no better coach in the National Football League than this guy right here.”

Jim: “Well, Jack Harbaugh.”

John: “True.”

Jim: “I got a chance to work for my dad at Western Kentucky. My dad worked with us at the University of San Diego as our running backs coach and also was our running back coach at Stanford when Willie Taggart took the head coaching job at Western Kentucky. He left before the bowl game, and my dad coached for us for three weeks at Stanford as well, so I definitely know we could do it.”

 

(on what it’s like sharing the Saints facility this week with the 49ers)

John: “It was just a plus going over there. Tulane had done a good job. They’re in the process of rebuilding their football stadium. They’re building a brand-new facility there for their football program. It’s under construction right now. They’re doing a great job preparing their facility as it stands, but we needed to be on the grass. We needed to have 100 yards, and we really wanted a field. It was a big plus for us over there. It’s good for player safety, it’s good for their health and to get in the game feeling like they need to feel.”

 

(on whether they’ve had a moment to think about the disappointment that would come on Sunday if they lost)

John: “Yes. You do think about that. Obviously, in any game that’s something you think about. It’s not really about, Jim was pointing this out before, but it’s not really about how we’re going to feel. Every coach, every player, everybody in the organization, when you win, it’s jubilation. And when you lose, it’s just bitter disappointment. So much goes into it, and it will be no different in this game, probably even on a greater scale because of the opportunity to win the championship. A lot of hard work has gone into this. A lot of plays have been made. A lot of sacrifices have been made. Great competitions have been won and adversity has been battled through by both teams. For the side that comes up short, it’s going to be a bitter disappointment. That’s how football works. That’s how life is, and we understand that.”

 

(on whether John wants to protect Jim as the older brother)

John: “No, not at all. I suspect he feels the same way. It’s about the teams. We are fiercely loyal, there’s no doubt. We all say that. Not just of one another and we always have been. That’s definitely not ever going to change, we will continue to be fiercely loyal and protective of one another, but also of our teams. Jim had mentioned earlier in the week, he talked about the band of brotherhood, the brothers that will take the field. St. Crispian’s Day speech, he’s got it memorized, it’s unbelievable. It’s brilliant. That’s true; the band of brothers will be the brothers on the sideline. It will be the Ravens sideline; it will be the 49ers sideline. That will be the band of brothers in this competition.”

 

(on being from Toledo)

Jim: “Were you born in Toledo, too? I was born in Toledo. We know the Maumee River. We know the Ohio Valley. That’s where we’re from. The week has not been any different from my standpoint or our standpoint than a normal week of football during the season. The players may have a different opinion on that but coaching-wise it’s been very much the same. You’re in a dark room; you’re watching tape, watching the Baltimore Ravens, studying them. Then get with the players, getting out on the practice field. That’s been wonderful. We’ve had great practices. Meetings have been really crisp. We’re getting a good understanding of what our plan is going into this game and all the while just thinking about the most exciting thing, when that ball is kicked off on Sunday for the game. We understand it’ll be a great challenge, it’ll be a great task. If we were to win this game it would be well earned. That’s really all we’re thinking about and focused about and can’t wait for. I’m really excited to be here.”

 

(on how the players will rise to the moment to win the game)

John: “Because they have to if you’re going to win the game. You made the point. If you look at the Niners games their whole season, look at the Ravens playoff games and the whole season it is about the players. It’s about the players playing well, playing their best, not just making big plays. Big plays are going to be a determinant of every single game, but who makes those plays those will be the memorable moments. But it will be all the little plays in between that make the difference. Guys that are in the right gap. Guys in the right place in coverage, spacing, assessing the route correctly, blocking, tackling, handoffs, quarterbacks center exchange, throwing. Every little thing kicking, covering kicks, every little thing that goes into football is going to determine the one true champion and who wins this game. It’s going to be 60 minutes of great football, because you’ve got two fundamentally very sound football teams playing whose total focus is on this one moment, this one game. Within that plays will come. Plays will come to guys and guys will make plays. The guys that make those plays will end up winning the game.”

 

(on their commonalities and differences in philosophies)

Jim: “Philosophical commonalities? I would be hard-pressed to spell philosophical right now.”

John: “I know he can’t spell commonalities. I would hope that you see it in the way our teams play. To me that would be the biggest compliment and the biggest return. Just watch the two teams play. Watch the way the players conduct themselves, the things they say. Watch the way they practice. Jim talked about their practices, ours have been the same. Meetings have been phenomenal. They’ve been that way all year, nothing has changed. We’ve come out here and had the same week we had every single week, hopefully just a little bit better.”

 

(on whether there will be a post-Super Bowl bear hug)

John: “I’ve given absolutely no consideration to the postgame hand shake or bear hug or anything else. I haven’t thought about that for one second. Have you, Jim?”

Jim: “I have not.”

 

(on Jim’s son, Jay Harbaugh, working for the Baltimore Ravens this season)

Jim: “I’m really really thankful and proud at the same time that Jay is doing what he loves to do. That is a real blessing and he’s doing it with the Baltimore Ravens with a tremendous organization, great coaches around to mentor him and to teach him, especially John being there and hiring him and I hear he’s doing a phenomenal job which again I’m really proud of. This week I haven’t been talking to him or calling him or anything. I’ve sent him a few texts just letting him know how I feel about him and I don’t want to give reason for people to think I’m talking to him. I’m really proud of what he’s doing, I’ve heard he’s done a great job and that means the world.”

John: “I’m appreciative that Jim allowed Jay to come out. I’ve obviously known Jay his whole life. He did a great job at Oregon State. He was trained by Mike Riley there as a student coach for all those years. He’s far better than we’ve anticipated and I knew he would be great at what he does. The way we looked at it, we talked about the philosophical difference or whatever; I think that may well tip the scale that might be our edge, Jay. He’s really good. He’s a hard working guy. I guarantee he’s excited about the game and competing and all those things just like he should be.”

 

(on whether the teams are gaining energy from New Orleans)

John: “I think our guys really understand the whole dynamic here, just like everybody does. Everybody in America understands (Hurricane) Katrina and New Orleans and the renaissance as you put it and all those things. We drive the buses to all those different places and we get a chance to look at some of the neighborhoods and things like that. You can tell guys are looking at it. It is important and I have a great respect for the people of New Orleans. More than that though is the people that we deal with in the hotel and things like that. The people who are working with us, the security and the people who work at our hotel, they’re just great people. They have smiles on their faces, they’re excited to be doing and really building relationships with these people because we’re with them all week. To me, that’s when we get a chance to talk to the people of New Orleans.”

Jim: “I would say the same thing. Just meeting people here with the hospitality has been tremendous. I like the way they talk. There have been a lot of great Super Bowls here – you look back at the highlights of the 10 Super Bowls that have been played here. Big, big games. We’re understanding it – players, coaches, and me personally. Just the enormity of it. The world’s biggest sporting event each year and what it has become – a vision of the fathers of this game and the vision they have for this spectacle. They have mastered that. We’re just proud for the awesomeness of every effect that everybody does such an amazing job. It’s great to be a part of. Now, we want to win.”

 

(on how often they communicate during a season and any insight that they provided one another that they wished they had not)

John: “I know Jim hasn’t provided me with anything that I can remember (laughs). I don’t think it really applies. Whatever we talked about, he’s been very helpful. We’ve run into some things, whether it might be schematic or just being a head coach and being in position. Even beyond that, just the normal personal stuff that any two brothers would talk about in terms of life and family. Just all those kinds of things. That’s probably, by far, 95+ percent of our conversation. I think too much has been made of that – really nothing that would apply to the game. It just goes back to the players, Jim is exactly right. It’s going to be the guys out there on the field, whose faces are marred with blood, sweat, and dust. Those will be the guys who will determine the outcome of this game and nothing we talked about over the last couple of weeks will change anything.”

Jim: “I can’t think of anything that would give us an advantage that we had talked about over the past couple of years.”

 

(on what they have learned from their mother that they apply to their coaching career)

Jim: “There is no one in the family who has more competitive fire than my mother. She competes like a maniac. She has just always believed in us, and I think that is the most important thing to me. She believed in me, John, and Joanie, and took us to games and played catch with us, shot baskets with us, and just believed in us.”

John: “She was not happy with us when we made a goal out of chicken wire when we were about 13 years old, and we shot all of the windows out of the garage door. Remember that? They were glass. She called dad in on that one. All the things that Jim said are absolutely true. No one would fight harder for us than our mom, no matter what the situation was, or teach us how to have each other’s back and be there for one another, whether it was a little scrape in the neighborhood or something like that. She basically made it very clear that we were to have each other’s back no matter what, and that was our mom. She was with us every day. Dad worked a lot. When he was around we would hang out with dad, but mom took us to practices and all that. Mom was with us all the time. The other thing is that she is a highly intelligent, very thoughtful lady. We grew up with those kinds of conversations. We may have been talking football with dad in the basement, but mom was talking about other things. There were a lot of things going on in our world during the ‘70s, and mom was always tuned in on those kinds of things and brought up conversation that helped make us well-rounded people as we grew up.”

 

(on how Jim Harbaugh’s stint under Mike Ditka helped mold him into what he is today)

Jim: “Those were formidable years for me and signature years to be in Chicago. To be drafted in the NFL, and play for the legendary Mike Ditka, doesn’t get any better than that. I spent seven years – a lot of great years and a lot of great games. A lot of high highs and a lot of low lows. Doesn’t get any better than this kind of feeling. In some places, big disappointments. There were a couple that were top five in my life, but that’s football and that’s life. I look back on that, and what do they mean to me with shaping the rest of my life with the Chicago Bear organization and the people I met there and what the organization and Coach Ditka did for me? I don’t think there is a percentage to put on it. Those were signature years for me.”

John: “Just as far as my prospective on it, when you’re watching your brother compete at that level. I have a video that Morgan Cox has that one of his brother’s buddies took of his brother when he was snapping the ball for the winning field goal against Denver in ‘86 there in Mile High. He was a nervous wreck, contorting himself in every direction you can imagine until the ball went through the uprights and celebrating like crazy. It brought back memories for me, and I can just remember living and dying, along with our parents and Jonnie, with every single snap that Jim ever took as an NFL football player, whether it was Chicago or Indianapolis, or all the other places he was at. That is how it is when you’re family. To watch a family member play, I think you are far more nervous than they are by far. That’s how I always felt. I was just always completely and enormously proud of what he was doing as a player and how he was competing. Even in the moments you just mentioned. I think the greatest moment for me through that whole thing was, maybe a couple years later, gaining so much respect for Coach Ditka. Now, I don’t know him that well and I just know what Jim says about him. Now, we’re all a fan and when he came out and said it was the wrong thing and he said didn’t handle it the right way, it probably cost him his team a little bit there. As a coach, we all learn so much hearing another coach talk about something like that. And the way Jim handled that moment and he was just rock solid. He just came back and kept competing with the respect for all that, even in a situation that isn’t all that fair. I learned a lot at the time, and I think would think a lot of players would, too, if they understand handling that situation.”

Jim: “It was more than fair. I shouldn’t have thrown the interception. Still kicking myself for that.”

 

(on whether building relationships with their players is what got them this far)

John: “That’s part of it. What brought us here is guys playing really well and playing good football games. Just like they do, we have a rough, tough, hard-playing football team that made plays when they had to. That’s really what got us here. Good coaches coaching really well. We learned growing up that if you’re going to be a teacher, all great teachers make it about their students, right? Our dad told us that coaches are teachers first, which I know that they are. I know Jim has a great relationship with his players. You would always like to think, as a coach, that you’d strive for that and that’s really important. Any time a player knows that a coach is in his corner, has his back, and wants what is best for him and wants him to do well, you’re going to be more effective and players are appreciative of that.”

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Gigantic purple march to honor Ray Lewis set for 2:52 p.m. Sunday in New Orleans

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Gigantic purple march to honor Ray Lewis set for 2:52 p.m. Sunday in New Orleans

Posted on 01 February 2013 by WNST Staff

To honor Ray Lewis and to celebrate the biggest and final game of his 17-year career, we’re hoping you’ll join us at Toulouse and The River in downtown New Orleans and march 17 blocks as a walking tailgate to Super Bowl 47.

Our FREE tailgate party will begin at 10 a.m. There’s plenty of cold beer, drinks, great food and awesome music from legendary Baltimore DJ Bobby Nyk at the edge of Woldenberg Park at the foot of the Mississippi River.

At 2:52 p.m. in Sunday we’ll gather and begin our march to the Superdome by making a left onto Decatur, which becomes N. Peters which becomes Tchoupitoulas and then a right onto Poydras for the long boulevard walk to the Dome and the Super Bowl. We expect to arrive at the Dome about two hours before game time.

Bring your cameras, shoot video and show everyone back in Baltimore the power of the purple flash mob in New Orleans as we support the Ravens and honor Ray Lewis with a block for every one of his 17 seasons in the Charm City and making football great.

Our parade route: we’ll make a left out of Woldenberg Park onto Decatur which becomes N. Peters which becomes Tchoupitoulas and then a right into Poydras, which is a wide-open boulevard that leads to the Superdome.

 

And if you want to know what it looks like when several thousand Baltimore Ravens fans get together in the streets, check out this 2010 video from our Indianapolis purple flash mob and march to their dome:

 

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