Instant Analysis: Ravens batter Patriots, earn Super Bowl berth

January 20, 2013

Baltimore Sun staff members analyze the Ravens' 28-13 win over the New England Patriots in the AFC championship game.

Matt Vensel, blogger/reporter: You couldn't have scripted this any better. A storybook ending for Ray Lewis. A redemption tale for Joe Flacco, who will be underrated no longer. And never-before-seen battle of brothers in the Super Bowl. They are certainly the sentimental favorites, but who knows if the Ravens will seal the deal in New Orleans? We can worry about that later. First things first, savor this one, Baltimore. Savor it.

Aaron Wilson, reporter: Harbaugh Bowl becomes a reality as both John Harbaugh and Jim Harbaugh's respective teams advance to the Super Bowl. Ravens are bound for Big Easy after emotional victory over Patriots, avenging last year's AFC title game disappointment. Unlike last year when Billy Cundiff and Lee Evans' miscues spelled doom for the Ravens, an efficient Joe Flacco outdueled Tom Brady and got the win. The Ravens silenced the crowd. Bernard Pollard knocked Stevan Ridley out of the game. Anquan Boldin and Dennis Pitta made clutch touchdown receptions. Retiring middle linebacker Ray Lewis' last ride is another trip to the Super Bowl. Ed Reed returns to his Louisiana hometown in pursuit of his first Super Bowl ring.

Peter Schmuck, columnist: Kind of figured something like this would happen when the combined score of the NFC title game was 52. Frankly, I'm omen-ed out. The Ravens obviously have harnessed some otherworldly force to dismiss the top two seeds in the AFC and -- in this case -- do it in convincing fashion. They'll probably try to bribe the oddsmakers to open them as a 9 1/2-point dog for the third game in a row, but nobody would be fooled this time.

Kevin Cowherd, columnist: Joe Flacco was masterful in the second half, Anquan Boldin was clutch and the Ravens defense thoroughly bottled up the Patriots. When was the last time you saw Bill Belichick and Tom Brady look so confused in a big game? Now it's on to the Super Bowl and the Harbaugh vs. Harbaugh matchup with the San Francisco 49ers that will dominate headlines here as much as Ray Lewis' last ride will.

Edward Lee, reporter: Joe Flacco did it again, outplaying Tom Brady with three touchdown passes in the second half. He has most certainly earned that big contract extension now. And the defense forced turnover after turnover in the second half. Expect to hear a lot about the Harbaugh Bowl over the next two weeks.

Ron Fritz, sports editor: The Ravens said they weren’t scared coming into New England, and they played like a team that wanted to go to the Super Bowl. Shockingly, Bill Belichick didn’t act like a coach who has won three Super Bowls. He punted from the 35- and 34-yard lines. He mismanaged the clock at the end of the first half. When the Ravens offense adjusted in the second half, the Patriots had nothing for them. This was just a beatdown for the Ravens.

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