FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Joe Flacco outdueled Tom Brady and led the Baltimore Ravens to their first Super Bowl in 12 years with a 28-13 victory over the New England Patriots on Sunday.
The win sets up the first Super Bowl coached by brothers, Baltimore’s John Harbaugh and San Francisco’s Jim. The 49ers are listed as 5-point favorites.
Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis’ last season will end in 2 weeks in New Orleans; he was MVP of the 2001 game, the Ravens’ only Super Bowl win.
“This is our time. This is our time,” Lewis said as he and a few teammates were receiving the AFC championship trophy. “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, and man, we did it and we’re on our way to the Super Bowl. That’s awesome.”
Flacco threw two touchdown passes to Anquan Boldin and one to Dennis Pitta as the Ravens outscored the Patriots 21-0 in the second half.
Baltimore’s defense made Brady look ordinary. Brady was 67-0 at home when leading at halftime.
It also was a first for the Patriots, who hadn’t lost an AFC championship at home – including beating the Ravens in Foxborough last year.
“It was pretty awesome,” Flacco said. “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’s three touchdown passes came in just over 10 minutes in the second half. He hit Bolden for two TDs in the first four minutes of the fourth quarter – a 3-yarder and an 11-yarder – after hitting Pitta with a 5-yard strike with 6:14 left in the third.
The Ravens (13-6) gained just 130 yards in the first half before Flacco guided them on scoring drives of 87 and 63 yards.
Stephen Gostkowski had given the Patriots (13-5) a 3-0 lead with a 31-yard field goal with 6:21 left in the first quarter. But the Ravens went ahead on Ray Rice’s 2-yard touchdown run with 9:28 to go in the second.
Wes Welker then scored with just over 4 minutes remaining in the half on a 1-yard pass from Brady and the Patriots increased their lead on Gostkowski’s 25-yard field goal on the final play before intermission.
New England outgained Baltimore 214 yards to 130 in the half. Brady completed 14 of 24 passes for 139 yards, while Flacco went 6 for 12 for 81 yards. Neither team committed a turnover.
The scoring pass to Bolden ended a drive on which Flacco completed five of six passes, the longest a 23-yarder to Torrey Smith.
The touchdown by Pitta capped the Ravens’ best drive of the game, covering 87 yards in 10 plays. It started with a 15-yard defensive pass interference penalty. Then, Flacco completed six of his other nine passes on the series. Three of them went for first downs – 22 yards to Pitta, 15 to Rice and 12 to Bolden that gave the Ravens a first-and-goal at the Patriots 10-yard line.
Flacco then connected with Pitta for a 5-yard pass and finished the drive with another 5-yarder to Pitta, who easily beat single coverage by safety Steve Gregory and gave Baltimore its 28-13 lead.