x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Ravens down Patriots to book berth in Super Bowl

The Baltimore Ravens reach their first Super Bowl in 12 years, setting up a clash between coaching brothers John and Jim Harbaugh and the San Francisco 49ers.

John Harbaugh and his Baltimore Ravens have set up a family reunion at the Super Bowl, shutting down the New England Patriots 28-13 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 defence 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 will meet in two weeks in New Orleans - what a place for a party to celebrate the first brother-vs.-brother coaching match-up in Super Bowl history.

It also will be quite a last game for Lewis, the emotional linebacker who will retire after the match-up with the 49ers, who open as 5-point favorites.

"This is our time. This is our time," said Lewis, who made 14 tackles on Sunday and has 44 in three postseason games after missing 10 weeks with torn right triceps.

Driven by Lewis' pending departure from the NFL, Baltimore's defence 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 had not 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 is 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, the only quarterback to win a playoff game in each of his first five seasons, was dynamic with his arm and precise with his decision making. Looking much more the championship passer than Brady, his throws of 11 and three yards to Anquan Boldin and five to Dennis Pitta all were perfect.

New England (13-5) lost a home AFC title match-up for the first time in five home 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.

"All these men out there, there might just be only five of us up here, but every man out there sacrificed this year for each other," Lewis said during the trophy ceremony. "And man, we did it and we're on our way to the Super Bowl. That's awesome."