The Union Recorder

Local Sports

January 14, 2013

Title games feature Ravens-Pats, 49ers-Falcons

(Continued)

ATLANTA —

San Francisco's 20-17 overtime loss last year to the Giants was part of a tense day of football that began with New England's 23-20 victory over the Ravens in the AFC title game.

In that game, Billy Cundiff missed a 32-yard field goal that would have tied the game with 11 seconds left.

This season, Justin Tucker beat out Cundiff for the kicker's job. Tucker hit a 47-yarder against Denver on Saturday to lift the Ravens to a 38-35 win in double overtime, extending Ray Lewis' career for at least one more week and putting the 17-year veteran one win away from his second Super Bowl.

"We fought hard to get back to this point and we're definitely proud of being here," Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco said. "We feel like it's going to take a lot for somebody to come and kick us off that field come the AFC championship game."

Lewis and the Ravens will have to stop the NFL's most potent offense. The Patriots put up 457 yards in a 41-28 victory over Houston, which left them one win away from their sixth Super Bowl in the 2000s.

"I think the two best teams are in the final," Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said. "Baltimore certainly deserve to be here and so do we."

The Patriots were made early 9½-point favorites against the Ravens.

These teams met in the regular season and that game was also decided by a kick — Tucker's 27-yard field goal that sneaked through the right upright for a 31-30 victory. Or did it?

While the Ravens were celebrating, Pats coach Bill Belichick ran to midfield and grabbed a replacement official's arm as he tried to exit the field. The NFL fined Belichick $50,000 for the gesture.

New England is the even-money favorite in Vegas to win the Super Bowl. San Francisco is next at 2-1, followed by Atlanta (5-1) and Baltimore (8-1).

Among the possible Super Bowl story lines:

—The Harbaugh Bowl. Jim Harbaugh coaches the 49ers and John Harbaugh coaches the Ravens.

—A rematch of San Francisco's 41-34 win at New England on Dec. 16 — one of the most entertaining games of the regular season.

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