FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Oh, brother! John Harbaugh and his Baltimore Ravens set up a family reunion at the Super Bowl, shutting down the New England Patriots 28-13 Sunday in the AFC championship game.
The Ravens reached 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.
Next up for Harbaugh and the Ravens is younger brother Jim and the San Francisco 49ers, who beat Atlanta 28-24 earlier in the day for the NFC title.
"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."
They'll meet in two weeks in New Orleans — what a place for a party to celebrate the first brother-vs.-brother coaching matchup in Super Bowl history.
It also 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.
"This is our time. This is our time," said Lewis, who made 14 tackles Sunday and has 44 in three postseason games after missing 10 weeks with a torn right triceps.
Driven by Lewis' pending departure from the NFL, Baltimore's defense stepped up in the playoffs. Brady was 67-0 at home when leading at halftime, but this was no contest in the second half.
"We've lost before. It takes a while to get over," Brady said.
It also was a first for the Patriots, who hadn't lost an AFC championship at home.
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.
As in the previous two playoff wins against Indianapolis and Denver, the Ravens (13-6) 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.
"It was pretty awesome," said Flacco, who has eight touchdown passes and no interceptions in the playoffs. "We were here last year and thought we had it, but came up a little short. Guys came out in the second half and made plays. ... We put pressure on them like that, and it worked pretty well."
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 throws of 11 and 3 yards to Anquan Boldin and 5 to Dennis Pitta all were perfect.
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.
"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 ..."