NEW ORLEANS – The older brother edged the younger brother in the Harbaugh vs. Harbaugh coaching duel.
Savvy vets helped make it happen for the Baltimore Ravens, but young quarterback Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers made it a thriller to the finish.
The Ravens, coached by John Harbaugh, jumped out to 22-point lead with a kickoff return touchdown to open the second half and held on backed up to their own end zone to beat the 49ers, coached by Jim Harbaugh, 34-31 Sunday night in Super Bowl XLVII.
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After the game, what did Jim tell his brother?
"Congratulations and that I was proud of him," said Jim, who at 49 is 15 months younger than John. 50.
What did John say to him?
"I think the same thing," said Jim.
Jim also was proud of his team. The 49ers fell behind 28-6 only 11 seconds into the second half when Jacoby Jones of the Ravens returned the kickoff 108 yards for a touchdown. But the game went down to the final minutes.
"I really want to handle this with class and grace," said the 49ers coach. " … The Ravens made a lot of plays. Our guys battled back to get back into it, and they competed and battled to win."
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At the two-minute warning, trailing 34-29, the 49ers had second-and-goal at the Baltimore 5-yard line. Kaepernick tried three passes in vain to wide receiver Michael Crabtree. Harbaugh said two of the passes merited penalty flags against the Ravens.
"There's no question in my mind that there was a pass interference and then a hold on (Michael) Crabtree on the last one" said Harbaugh.
Baltimore was in the playoffs this season for the fifth year in a row under John Harbaugh.
The 49ers came into the game with a 5-0 franchise record in Super Bowls. This 49ers team was in the playoffs for the second consecutive season after a nine-year drought. It was first exposure to the postseason for Kaepernick.
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In the first half, the Ravens made the most of their experience. Wide receiver Anquan Boldin, a 10-year veteran, caught a 13-yard touchdown pass from Joe Flacco. Safety Ed Reed, in his 11th season, had an interception off Kaepernick.
But after a 33-minute power outage delayed the game in the second half, Kaepernick and the 49ers came alive. In a span of two minutes and 21 seconds, the 49ers scored two touchdowns on a Kaepernick pass to Crabtee and a Frank Gore run.
Might the Ravens defense have fatigued in the second half?
"I think they probably got a little tired," said 49ers tight end Vernon Davis. "But they played hard. I take my hat off to those guys because they played a great football game."
The 49ers' last gasp came with four seconds left after Baltimore took an intentional safety. Returning the punt after the safety, Ted Ginn Jr. got only to midfield.
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San Francisco linebacker Ahmad Brooks wanted that pass interference at the finish.
"If anybody sees that on film, I'm pretty sure they will say it was pass interference," said Brooks. " … I don't want to make excuses, but it was pass interference. I got two eyes."
In the 49ers interview area at the Superdome, players sat on platforms. On the other side of the black curtains, in the Ravens' interview area, the Baltimore players could be heard shouting in triumph.
Center Jonathan Goodwin of the 49ers said he hoped the officials didn't hold back the penalty flags because it was late in the game. "I hope not because a rule is a rule," said Goodwin. "The situation … shouldn't dictate what should be called."
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Linebacker Patrick Willis lamented that the 49ers didn't win their sixth Super Bowl, which would have matched the Pittsburgh Steelers for the most. The 49ers won their last Super Bowl in the 1994 season.
"I really wanted to bring the championship back to the Bay area, and unfortunately we didn't get it done as a team," said Willis. "We were there, and we came up short."
He also regretted that his team needed a half to get rolling.
"We expect to win. … In the first half, we didn't win," said Willis. "We were able to calm down and come back out in the second half. I would have liked to have had that for four quarters."
Brooks said the 49ers tried to make the most of the delay due to the power outage.
"It gave us more time to adjust to what they were trying to do," said Brooks. "I don't even know why the power went out. It just took us a little longer to lose."