The San Francisco 49ers overcame a 17-point deficit to punch a ticket to Super Bowl XLVII, while the Baltimore Ravens won in one of the most hostile environments in the NFL to secure a Harbaugh vs. Harbaugh coaching duel in the championship game.
In Atlanta, the 49ers held off a late Falcons surge to win the NFC Championship. The Falcons soared to a 17-0 lead after the first play of the second quarter, thanks to two Julio Jones touchdown catches and a Matt Bryant field goal. The Niners narrowed the gap to 17-14 thanks to a LaMichael James touchdown run and Vernon Davis four-yard catch, but a Tony Gonzalez touchdown reception with 25 seconds left in the half gave the Falcons a 24-14 lead going into the locker rooms.
Frank Gore quickly narrowed the deficit in the third quarter, scoring on a five-yard run four minutes in. Neither team scored for 17 minutes after that, until Gore went in untouched from nine yards out to make the score 28-24. The Falcons got down to San Francisco's six-yard line but stalled out on fourth down, and a last-ditch hook-and-lateral attempt failed on the game's final play.
The Niners won despite being outgained by Atlanta, 477-373. Matt Ryan accounted for 396 of those yards through the air, tossing three touchdowns and one interception along the way. Justin Rodgers led the anemic ground game with only 32 yards on 10 carries. Jones ended up catching 11 balls for 182 yards. Roddy White also hit the 100-yard mark on the button on seven catches.
Colin Kaepernick went a relatively modest 16-of-21 for 233 yards and the one touchdown. He only attempted two rushes for 21 yards, while Gore accounted for 90 rushing yards.
And Niners head coach Jim Harbaugh will square off in New Orleans in two weeks against his brother John, who went into New England in the AFC title game for the second straight season with his Ravens but came out victorious this time. Baltimore hung tough and weathered the Pats' first half storm before seizing control of the game in the second half.
The Pats took a 13-7 lead after the first 30 minutes. Ray Rice scored on a two-yard run to give Baltimore a 7-3 lead in the second quarter, but Wes Welker gave the Pats the lead back on a one-yard catch from Tom Brady. Stephen Gostkowski's field goal to end the half would be the last time New England scored, though, as the Ravens defense forced three turnovers while giving the Pats offense fits.
Joe Flacco exploded, meanwhile, tossing three second-half touchdowns to put the game out of reach by the fourth quarter. A five-yard pass to Dennis Pitta in the third gave Baltimore the lead for good at 14-13. Anquan Boldin then caught a four-yard pass on the first play of the fourth, and Boldin added the icing on the cake on an 11-yard pass four minutes later. Flacco finished 21-of-36 for 240 yards and threw no interceptions. Brady went 29-of-54 for 320 yards but threw two costly fourth-quarter interceptions.
This will be the 49ers' sixth Super Bowl appearance and first in 18 years. They won the title in the 1981, 1984, 1988, 1989 and 1994 seasons. The Ravens' sole Super Bowl appearance came in 2000 when they beat the New York Giants.
Tags: Buffalo, Buffalo Bills, Football, NFL
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