The Baltimore Ravens are the closest thing anyone has seen to defensive perfection this post-season and will enter today’s Super Bowl 47 looking to take down another NFL powerhouse team.
Ravens’ coach John Harbaugh expects his players will rise to the moment and hopefully snatch a win from younger brother Jim’s San Francisco 49ers in the National Football League championship game at the Superdome stadium.
“Big plays are going to be a determining factor in every single game,” John said on Friday. “But it will be the little plays in between that make the difference.”
“Guys that are in the right place in coverage, spacing, assessing the routes correctly, blocking, tackling, handoffs, quarterback-center exchanges and throwing. Every little thing wins this game,” he said.
The “Har-Bowl” will take John and Jim’s sibling rivalry to a new level after they led their respective teams to the NFL’s ultimate challenge.
Jim, who is 15 months younger than his brother, says his coaches are ready and the players excited about today’s game, which will be the 10th Super Bowl held in New Orleans.
“We are 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,” Jim said.
“It’s probably a little tougher emotionally,” John said of facing his brother. “It’s a little tougher just from the sense of I don’t think you think about it when you’re coaching against somebody else; it’s more about the scheme and the strategy.”
“There’s a little bit of a relationship element that’s more strong than maybe coaching against someone else,” he said. “I’ll have a better answer for you after the game. I’ve never been through this before. This is all new.”
The Ravens’ team-of-destiny tag has grown with each playoff victory. Baltimore’s vaunted defense enters the contest having shut down the league’s top two scoring offences in as many weeks.
The first Super Bowl in New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina in 2005 will also mark the last hurrah in a sparkling 17-year career for Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis.
Former Super Bowl Most Valuable Player Lewis will be looking for a big impact in his final game, hoping to ride off into the sunset with a second NFL title ring.
“It is going to be 60 minutes of great football because you’ve got two fundamentally sound football teams playing with total focus on this one moment, in this one game,” John said.
The Ravens look and sound determined, but San Francisco have history on their side with a perfect 5-0 Super Bowl record.
The 49ers are returning to the Super Bowl for the first time in 18 years to face a Ravens team aiming to add a second title to the one they captured in 2001.
Both the 49ers and the Ravens have had to weather adversity this season.
The difficulties did not let up this week either with the 49ers having to quell controversy caused by anti-gay remarks from their cornerback Chris Culliver and Lewis having to defend himself against a report that linked him to a deer antler spray that contains a substance banned by the NFL.
The Ravens won the most recent matchup between the two teams 16-6 in November of 2011. That was the first coaching clash between the Harbaughs.
However, there is more on the line this time around with the winners collecting US$88,000 in prize money per player while the losers earn US$42,000 each.