San Francisco 49ers and their head coach Jim Harbaugh celebrate in the locker room after their win. Photo: Reuters
Joe Flacco threw three touchdown passes in the second half as the Baltimore Ravens rallied to beat New England 28-13 on Sunday to reach the second Super Bowl in franchise history.
The Ravens made up for the loss to the Patriots in last year’s American Football Conference championship game in Foxboro by rallying in the second half as Flacco carved up the New England defence.
Baltimore advances to its first National Football League championship contest since the 2000 season and will face San Francisco, who also won on the road on Sunday, beating the top seeded Atlanta Falcons 28-24 in another come-from-behind thriller in the National Conference title game.
The win means Ravens veteran Ray Lewis will cap his career with a Super Bowl appearance. And two brothers will coach against each other in Super Bowl 47. John Harbaugh’s Ravens will square off against his brother Jim’s San Francisco team on February 3 in New Orleans.
Flacco sliced up the Patriot’s defence by throwing three touchdown passes after halftime, as the Ravens scored 21-consecutive points at Gillette Stadium. Flacco completed 21-of-36 passes on the game.
Anquan Boldin caught two of Flacco’s touchdown passes and Ray Rice ran for a TD.
Tom Brady set the all-time NFL record for career playoff yards, but he couldn’t get the job done when it mattered the most as the Ravens denied New England a record-tying eighth Super Bowl berth.
Brady completed just 29-of-54 passes for 320 yards with two interceptions. He had one touchdown pass to Wes Welker.
One of the key turning points was when New England’s Steven Ridley took a huge hit to the helmet from Baltimore’s Bernard Polland and fumbled the ball away in the fourth quarter.
Ridley immediately went to the dressing room for medical treatment and didn’t return.
A New England offence that had averaged nearly 35 points per game in the regular season punted the ball five times on Sunday, including three inside Baltimore territory.
Baltimore defeated the New York Giants 34-7 in their only other Super Bowl appearance.
Earlier, in Atlanta, Frank Gore had a pair of touchdown runs in the second half as the 49ers stormed back from a 17-point deficit to beat the Falcons 28-24 and advance to the NFL championship game for the first time since 1995.
San Francisco, who lost to the Super Bowl champion New York Giants in the NFC title game last year, will be playing in their sixth Super Bowl in franchise history.
The 49ers are a perfect 5-0 in the championship game and will be trying to join Pittsburgh as the only clubs with a half dozen Super Bowl triumphs.
The top-seeded Falcons were hosting their first NFC championship game on Sunday but they couldn’t get the job done against dynamic quarterback Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers.
San Francisco trailed 17-0 midway through the second quarter before charging from behind in the second half as their offence came to life.
Gore romped nine yards for a touchdown to put San Francisco ahead 28-24 with 8:23 left. After that it was up to the defence to do their part.
Atlanta’s Harry Douglas made an acrobatic 22-yard catch to put the ball on San Francisco’s 28.
The Falcons advanced the ball to the 10-yard line, setting the stage for the contest to be decided on two plays.
On third-and-four, Ahmad Brooks broke up quarterback Matt Ryan’s pass and NaVorro Bowman got the ball back for the 49ers after knocking down Ryan’s toss to Roddy White on the fourth down.
‘‘That was a great finish for our defence,’’ San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh said. ‘‘It put an exclamation point on the game.’’
San Francisco ran down the clock with their next possession before Atlanta got the ball back on their own 41 yard line with six seconds to play. Julio Jones caught a 24-yard pass on the final play of the game.
‘‘We moved the ball effectively the entire day,’’ Ryan said. ‘‘We had two chances where we were in positive territory and didn’t walk away with points.
‘‘When you do that against a very good football team you’re not going to win.’’
It marked the 49ers’ first playoff road win in 24 years and just the third in club history. Their last post-season road win came in 1989 against the Chicago Bears.